April 24, 2024

29th Gift: R.U.N. Sheet

This week is part of a series called “29th Gifts.” Each month, around the 29th, we’re giving away a tool we’ve built for free or at a steep discount. Let’s dive into this week’s gift!

In Ei’s work with companies, one of the most common interactions to witness is when a team discusses if they should hire an intern. It usually goes something like this:

"Should we hire interns this summer?"

"Do we have budget?"

"Not sure."

"Do we have things they could help with?"


"Does anyone want to manage them?"


"Ok, maybe next year."

And that's because there is a lot of baggage around internships. For hosting companies, they take precious time, effort, and resources. Often, there is so little structure and so few shared norms that the quality for both the team and the intern varies drastically – from too much work and micromanagement to not enough.

Maybe there’s a better way

Instead of thinking of an internship as "just an internship," our challenge to any team or student is to start from a different place entirely. Consider creating projects rather than positions.

The benefits of a project-based approach:

  • Clearly defined goals and outcomes
  • Increased engagement and ownership for both the student and the company
  • Opportunities for real-world learning and skill development
  • Greater flexibility and adaptability to changing needs and circumstances

Going for a “R.U.N.”

With this shift in mind, we've designed a process and tool focused on helping you design those types of projects from either side, student or company. It's called R.U.N. — Research, Understand, Next Steps.

If you're part of a company, these are helpful questions to help you structure how you might work with individuals at any age on a short-term project basis.

The R.U.N. process consists of three sections:

  • Research: Gather information about your team’s goals, and how a future intern’s goals may align with your work.
  • Understand: Dig deeper into upcoming projects and needs, and what skills and experience an intern must have to succeed.
  • Next Steps: Discuss if there is a way to make a project happen and what both parties would need to do so.

If you don’t have a project in mind for your intern, working on this sheet together will help you ideate places where their work would be most meaningful. If you already have a project, these questions will help you come together on expectations and goals for the work so that everyone gets the most out of the experience.

The magic is in the collaboration – each side asks one another the questions from each section, and then they look for ways their needs and abilities overlap. You'll be looking for alignment before the project even begins!

Here's a quick look at the whole tool:

Currently, we teach this process with students at Stanford in our Design Formation program and with companies who are building onboarding programs for young talent. But it also works for anyone who is connecting with people they may want to bring on their team someday.

Now it's your turn. If you're preparing to work with an intern, download our designing internships worksheet here and let us know how it works for you!


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