A DISTRIBUTOR ASKS: I’m thinking about adding a college intern this summer but I’m unsure of how to structure the setup. For those distributors or suppliers who have had interns, do you pay your interns or do you work with their school to provide credit? Do you have them sign a confidentiality agreement and/or non-compete agreement? What types of tasks do you have them do? Is there anything else I should consider to make sure it’s a successful experience for both parties?

Plan to pay them. Taking the credit-only route is a cheap way out and you may not land any good candidates. If the educational institution has a veterans program, the government will pay for the internship for the veterans in school. We strongly recommend engaging in any veterans programs at schools. We have interns interview as regular employees and sign regular employee paperwork, which includes all the confidentiality and noncompete forms. Our interns do regular jobs within our company. We post job descriptions for the areas we wish to have interns work and we expect them to learn and to contribute. No grunt work. It is a big waste of time if you approach them as flunkies.

Go to the internship fairs and use them as a jobs fair. Know in advance that college students get zero exposure to our industry. Our products are ubiquitous to them but once they realize it is an industry, you would be amazed how interested they are in it. That was our biggest surprise—the student response to our industry.

Internships, if approached seriously with the idea of the students contributing, can be very rewarding. Our foray last year into internship programs resulted in the direct hiring of five graduates—two bachelor’s degree grads, one MBA and two IMBAs; of those, two were veterans.



Signet, Inc.

PPAI 101157

We have had interns on several occasions, and currently have one working while she attends a local college. We do pay them. Normally we have them work about 16-20 hours a week, and we are very flexible with these hours.

My current intern works in our marketing department, creating marketing videos and also doing a lot of photography for a new website we are building. Sometimes these interns work into a full-time position, and sometimes they decide this industry is not a good fit.

I do not have them sign a non-compete agreement. My experience has been very positive with interns; our team usually learns a tremendous amount from these bright, young minds, and of course we welcome the extra help.


VP/Sales Manager

Suntex Industries

PPAI 113094

Do You Have An Answer?

A Distributor Asks: I’m increasingly asked by clients to develop a piece of art from scratch for a product. It’s very difficult to allocate my time to do that, plus make sure everything’s proofed, etc. And then the client doesn’t want to pay for the time it took to design their art. How do other distributors handle this part of their business?

What’s Your Answer? Email answers along with your name, title and

company name by May 19 to Question@ppai.org for possible inclusion in an

upcoming issue of PPB magazine.


Two New Initiatives Draw Students To The Industry

1. PPEF Pilot Program

Promotional Products Education Foundation (PPEF) is in its second year of a pilot program that sets up named scholarships at selected universities/colleges that will then be awarded by the schools to students studying in fields related to the promotional products industry. The program is a collaboration between PPEF and industry companies. In addition to providing the scholarships, the companies are expected to do outreach and provide internships through the school.

The pilot program started in 2016 with the Promotional Products Education Foundation – Signet Scholarship at the Fogelman College of Business and Economics at the University of Memphis in Memphis, Tennessee, and the Promotional Products Education Foundation – Brand Fuel Scholarship at Wake Tech Community College in Raleigh, North Carolina. “PPEF is expanding the pilot program by up to an additional 10 companies,” says Sara Besly, PPEF Foundation manager.

“The work group is tracking successes and failures, determining time and resources involved and developing templates and guidelines as we progress. PPEF is controlling the growth to determine if this is scalable to the whole industry. We have several companies interested in participating and I am currently researching schools in these companies’ business areas to see if the named scholarships start at the dollar commitment that we have set as the target amount ($10,000 over four years).”

PPEF has set up one new program in 2017. The Promotional Products Education Foundation – BrandVia Scholarship will be awarded at San Jose State University in San Jose, California.

“For the next four years, the $2,500 scholarship will be awarded annually to a junior or senior majoring in marketing. The selection process will be coordinated by SJSU for students with a minimum GPA of 3.0 who have a financial need,” Besly says.

If your company is interested in participating in the PPEF Pilot Program, email Sara Besly at sarab@ppai.org.

2. PPAI Intern Program

Just in time for the summer internship season, PPAI is excited to announce its latest industry education program. The PPAI Intern Program gives companies the tools they need to effectively manage internship programs. Internships are a great way to introduce future generations to the power of the promotional products industry. PPAI makes it easier for your company to target, hire, train and learn from a college intern.

The PPAI Intern Program Includes:

Promotional Products 101, a publication that brings interns up to speed on industry basics

• A lineup of targeted webinars focusing on the needs of interns to help them learn what they need to know to be successful

• Guidance from Seth Barnett, PPAI’s diversity development and engagement manager

• Temporary access to a SAGE Total Access user license giving interns full access to the industry’s sourcing and business management tools

• A chance to win free admission to SPARK, the PPAI conference for young industry professionals, which will be held in Denver, July 27-28, 2017

• Personalized collateral for participating employers

• Comprehensive Internship FAQs for prospective employers

• A chance for each participant in the PPAI Intern Program to win a $1,000 scholarship. One winner will be randomly chosen from candidates who successfully complete all requirements of the PPAI Intern Program. The winner will be announced by August 31, 2017.

For more information on PPAI’s Industry Intern program, visit www.ppai.org/ advocacy/diversity-engagement/ ppai-intern-program or email internprogram@ppai.org.

Julie Richie is a former associate editor for PPB.