Are you interested in becoming a department head for the Digital Media Engagement team? Here is some advice on getting started!

One of the nice things in the Digital Media Engagement (DME) internship is that there are many chances to take on leadership roles as an intern. However, it can be initially confusing about what you’re supposed to do when you become a department head (DH) and it is your first time in such a role. So, if you’re a new DH or are interested in becoming one, here are my tips on what a DH in any department can do to make their department great.

  1. Stay in Close Contact with Your co-DH and any

Your co-DH should be on the same page as you at all times, so make sure you are messaging them first when important matters come up. If they’ve been a DH for a while, they might also have tips on what to expect in the department. It should be the same with your Division Officers (DOs). They want to help you manage things and get work done!

2. Think from the Intern’s Perspective

This is an important tactic whether you are creating new projects or even reworking boot camps come application season. What will your interns need to do the project successfully? What common issues keep popping up and how can they be fixed? What did you wish you knew about the department when you started as an intern? By thinking from the intern’s perspective, you may be answering questions they haven’t posed yet and making it a more enjoyable experience for all.

3. Ask your ELTs for Help

Getting settled in as a DH can be overwhelming at first. You suddenly have to track metrics of many interns, answer questions you might not know the answers to and handle projects like web work or social media, which require constant attention. If you don’t know the answer to an intern question or project requirement, definitely ask your executive leadership team (ELT). If they can’t answer it, they can find someone who can or point you in the right direction.

4. Get to Know Other DHs

As a writing DH, I have become familiar with the DHs and leadership in Editing, Research, Graphic Design and Special Projects. We all rely on each other for help with projects, answering questions, updates on interdepartmental matters, etc. Therefore, if you’re a DH, you should definitely be in contact with other department heads who might be working with you. Make sure they know about the happenings in your department and definitely ask about theirs. What you’re planning in your department may affect theirs!

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Try New Things

In the summer of 2020, one of our ELTs (then my co-DH) and I decided to try holding office hours for our interns. It was a place to ask us questions, get to know each other and “meet” virtually. Our DOs have also started several new practices, from compiling a research source list to creating feedback response sheets for things like mock training. If you get an idea that might help make your team better, definitely propose it to your team!

6. Make Your Mark

Several times during this internship, I’ve been asked to build and manage a new project like the DME blog. This August, we learned about the America250 project, which will run for the next six years. We had to figure out write-up requirements, what the Trello board would look like, scheduling using a non-Google calendar, etc. Helping set up projects like this will be long-lasting and something you can highlight in your career work.

As DHs, it’s our job to run the department and make sure projects are going smoothly. Hopefully these tips will help with that. Good luck!

Writer: Sarah Concepcion

Editors: Annabelle Colton, Brooke Wolfenbarger

Graphic Designer: Kiki Kelley