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Association Services Group recently begun an internship program with support from GSAE.  After the first internship quarter (January-May) both intern and supervisor wrote an article for the GSAE newsletter outlining their learning experience and tips and tricks for other AMC’s going through the same process. 

The Supervisor-  Samantha T. Kilgore, Director of Communications, ASG. 
(written March 15, 2015) 
Just after New Year’s Day in 2015, I, along with the rest of the team at Association Services Group, LLC, welcomed our new intern, Camille Odom.  Although we had tremendous candidates, Camille seemed to fit perfectly into our office culture. She had a go-getter attitude and positivity that makes for excellent association management – and honestly, something we would need to get through one of the companies’ busiest seasons.

A recent graduate from the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs), Camille started off at a full on sprint on January 5.  From January until Mid- March alone, she attended and assisted with four annual meetings, two day-long strategic board meetings, and one statewide informational tour across seven different South Georgia locations. 
I should take a moment here to mention that though Camille was our third intern here at ASG, she was the first I would supervise.  I was actually the very first intern for ASG, in a not-so-far-away January of 2012, so it was easy to recall what helped me most as a newbie to the industry.  The challenge would be in translation.  Take our association’s needs and goals and cater those to give Camille the professional experience that could help her reach her career ambitions.

Here are some things that stuck out during this experience:

1. Multi-tasking is a good selling point for this generation. 
In one of our first conversations about this internship opportunity, I remember telling Camille she definitely would not be getting bored at ASG.  In her time here so far, Camille has dealt with host hotel BEO’s, manned membership booths, created marketing e-blasts, and helped hone the budget for an upcoming board meeting.   Luckily for Generation Y – of which I am a part – juggling comes easy.  Due to the sheer number of mobile devices, social media networks, television, radio and internet marketing and plain old distractions, our generation has been conditioned to focus on more than one thing at a time.  This is a huge plus from a management perspective in this industry, and can definitely be a good draw for future employees. 

2.  Take advantage of the in-between time.
Some of the best conversations Camille and I would have often took place on the car ride to meetings. This was a good time for her to ask any general questions about the task at hand, association management in general, and often why we might be doing something in particular with a client association.  It also encouraged me to think critically about how and why we do certain things with our clients, and even what could be done differently. 

3.  Give ownership. 
One of the most valuable things I learned from my work with ASG in 2012, and something we’ve made a point to give Camille these past months, is ownership.  A project to see through from start to finish can draw out tons of new experiences for the student that include coordination, planning, budgeting and (most importantly) trouble shooting.  Real life work experiences can be the key to transitioning a temporary intern into a full time team member.

We are thankful here at ASG to have had Camille with us for the last three months –and even more still for the GSAE for their commitment to supporting the association management industry with grant opportunities like this!  Thanks again, GSAE

The Intern – Camille Odom –  (recently hired full time) Program Services Coordinator, ASG
(written March 15, 2015)

Currently I am participating in an internship with an Association Management Company (AMC) called Association Services Group (ASG) in LaGrange, Georgia. The internship is five months long and geared towards marketing and communications. Following graduation from the University of Georgia in December, I moved to LaGrange and started the internship the 1st week of January. As I sat down to write this article midway through the internship period, I was able to reflect on my experiences with ASG thus far. I realized how blessed I am to have this opportunity. In just three months, I have grown both professionally and personally from this experience and I thank GSAE for helping to make it possible.
Much of what I have learned has been about how an AMC operates. Prior to working with ASG, I had no clue what an AMC was. When I first talked to Samantha, my supervisor, about the position I had trouble understanding how I could work for three different associations all at once. Later, she explained it in a way that made more sense to me.  Samantha said, “The company functions sort of like a law firm where we might have different clients. If you spend five hours on a project for a client, we would bill them for five hours of your time.”
One thing I learned very quickly is that working for an AMC requires attention to detail. Everything you do for a client must be kept separate including the time spent working and the supplies that are used. One of the most technical aspects is keeping up with your time. Even though this can be difficult when you are not in the office, I learned that this is one way association management companies save their clients money. For an AMC to increase efficiency and decrease client expenses, record keeping is key.  
The first week of my internship was spent in Savannah, Georgia at the largest conference the office coordinates. More than 3000 people attend and it involves a large number of staff members to coordinate and run the show. Prior to the conference, as I heard people talk about how big of a deal it is, I kept wondering, “Why did they want me to start this week? Aren’t I just going to be in the way?”
It turned out to be just the opposite situation. The onsite staff welcomed me to the ASG family and made me feel needed. I helped at registration, manned the membership booth, went to a board of directors meeting, and helped with the silent auction. I learned an incredible amount as the week went along because I was right in the middle of it all. If I had spent my first week in the office, I would have missed out on all those valuable learning experiences. After the conference, when it came time to discuss what changes need to be made next year, I could better understand and even provide some input because I was able to see it in action.
Following that first week, I began working on several special projects. I planned an educational workshop from top to bottom. Being so hands-on for this event helped me learn a lot and I was able to apply what I learned to later projects.  
One of the most important things I’ve learned in my time here at ASG is the importance of not just communication with your membership –but the right kind of communication. For several of our client boards, while they have and check email, they appreciate phone calls, and respond better to postal mail.  They understand the importance of social media, but defer to our ‘expertise’ in email marketing, and reaching out to younger generations using non-traditional techniques. In the same way, we as a staff respect their wisdom and knowledge in making personal connections through those traditional avenues, like the phone and postal mail. While our generations are much different, they are still relevant to effective association management today.
As I continue to reflect on this experience, I have learned a great deal from my supervisor, Samantha Kilgore. She is the Director of Communications for ASG as well as several clients. Samantha is great at her job and she knows what it takes to best communicate with the members of the organizations. I have enjoyed working with her and watching how she juggles all of her responsibilities. She has been extremely helpful at explaining things and patient with me as I ask questions and learn by doing. I am thankful to have this opportunity to learn and grow professionally by working alongside Samantha and the rest of the ASG staff.