From the Left



If You Have a Lot To Teach, You Probably Also Have a Lot To Learn

Bonnie Jean Feldkamp on

An intern is working with me for the spring semester. This is new for my department as the opinion editor. We get newsroom and photography interns every year. But opinion journalism is a different beast, and journalism is a fast-moving, ever-changing industry thanks to the internet. What used to be words on paper with a headline delivered to your door now includes things like search engine optimization. This is when headlines need to be keyword-specific so that what you write uses the same keywords readers use when they Google for information. Also, social media posts with visuals need to be created to share each published article. It's a lot, and the rules seem to always be changing. Content creators must learn and adjust accordingly.

Internships are an important part of higher education. Just Google why and you'll learn work experience, networking and skill building is on every list of why students should do it. Many universities even require an internship to graduate.

Employers want interns and co-ops so they can develop new talent and put students in the employee pipeline for after graduation while also supporting their staff with someone to help with lower level tasks.

However, taking on an intern while I'm still mastering an ever-changing industry feels a little intimidating. Then, I remembered Adam Grant. I read his book "Hidden Potential" when it was first published last fall. I remembered something Grant wrote and I reread Chapter 6, realizing I had the opportunity to harness one of the biggest benefits of bringing students in as interns.

The tutor effect and the coaching effect.

Grant writes: "The best way to learn something is to teach it. You remember it better after you recall it and you understand it better after you explain it."


If you're looking to raise your skill to mastery level, having the opportunity to mentor a student and teach them what you know is the best way to do it. That's the tutor effect. And Grant writes that coaching others reminds you that you have something to offer, and it raises your motivation. That's the coaching effect. What tutoring does for skill, coaching does for morale and motivation.

All of this combined with a growth mindset makes internships a win-win beyond filling the entry-level job pipeline for your employer. When you remember that taking the time to mentor a student in your area of interest and expertise only helps you solidify your knowledge and elevate your own potential, everyone should be thinking of ways to incorporate young people who are eager to learn your industry.

Now I don't feel so intimidated with the responsibility of teaching a student in this fast-paced, ever-changing industry. We're on this learning journey together. I may have more experience, but I still have much to learn. And with an intern at my side, I'm ready to help us both succeed.


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