How to Pitch an Idea to your Boss as an Intern [Students]

If your internship is going well, you’re busy, productive, learning new things every day, and getting along well with the other members of the organization. Maybe you’ve even come up with some thoughts on how to fix a problem or smooth out a process.

If you want to talk to your supervisor – or any manager – about your idea, we’ve got a few suggestions for how you should proceed. Think through these steps before starting the conversation.

Businesspeople working in office

Introduce your idea succinctly

Come up with a quick “elevator speech,” a sales pitch that encompasses your whole idea, and why it could be beneficial, quickly and cleanly. You may not have lots of time for impactful conversation with the boss, so make it count. Think about capturing a problem, suggested solution, and potential outcomes in a few short sentences. “A coupon generated with a Facebook ‘like’ could incentivize new customers to check out your new product line and bring in some foot traffic from millennials who use social media to source retail goods” is an example of a brief, complete sales pitch. Follow it with “If we could generate 100 more fb ‘likes’ this month, we’d increase our web following by 15%” and you’ll show you’ve done your homework, know the market, and want to make a lasting contribution to the organization.

Anticipate failure

Being denied, or even ignored, by supervisors is sometimes an unpleasant reality of the working world. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try! But it does mean that you should anticipate the possibility of being shut down, and understand that it isn’t necessarily personal and doesn’t reflect on your success as an intern.

Know your chain of command

Approach your direct supervisor first. Don’t go over that person’s head without asking, or you’ll likely ruffle some feathers. If you think you’d like to move up the food chain with your idea, ask whether a conversation with a higher-up is appropriate, and be sure to show that you appreciate your supervisor’s support and input.

Your internship is a learning opportunity, but it can be a chance to make real contributions to an organization, too. Tread carefully, and plot out your suggestions in advance. Then, go forth and knock their socks off!

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Bridge is a program that focuses on connecting employers and students in Rhode Island. The goal of Bridge is to match Rhode Island employers with talented students looking to gain valuable professional experience. Applying knowledge and skills acquired in college to a professional setting is a vital component of a student’s college education. Students who gain relevant internship experience are better prepared for full-time employment after graduation. By hiring interns, employers gain qualified, career-driven young professionals as employees. Student bring with them exposure to cutting edge practices and technology, new insights and philosophies, flexibility and a thirst for knowledge. bRIdge has a particular focus on connecting students and employers from specialized fields such as Business, Science, IT, Technology, Health, Design, Engineering and Manufacturing. The bRIdge website allows employers to post paid or unpaid internships online and directly reach out to a vast and talented pool of students. College students and recent graduates can sign up and start looking for an appropriate professional learning opportunity in minutes. bRIdge is a program of the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) and RISLA’s College Planning Center of Rhode Island. RISLA has joined up with Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Rhode Island (AICURI), the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education (RIBGHE) and the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce to bring together academia, business and community. If you have any questions about this program or if you need any assistance, please feel free to contact us.

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