Another summer has come and gone and for me, that means the end of summer internships. For the past three summers, I’ve brought on and managed six very different interns. As the interns get younger and I reluctantly get older, I’ve realized the way college students and recent graduates view internships has changed since I was a college student looking for work. At the end of the day, the goal of an internship is to gain real-life experience that the intern can use to help them find a full-time job upon graduation. From an employer perspective, the goal of an internship is to have an extra set of hands on staff to increase productivity and to provide insight into the field you’re working in. With these goals in mind, I’ve come up with the following tips for making the most of you and your intern’s time:
1. No matter how long you’ve been out of school, times have changed. Whether you’re from the class of 2010 or 1910, there’s something out there that’s different from when you were in school. Make sure your job descriptions are up-to-date and targeted towards the proper schools and departments.
2. Have a task list ready every day. There’s nothing worse than the feeling of scrambling for tasks for your interns to do. Even if it requires getting to work 20 minutes early, make sure you have a clear list of items and goals for your interns to accomplish that day, week or month.
3. Make sure every task has a purpose. Every college student remembers the days of high school busy work – worksheets or essays or reading assignments that were just there to fill time. Make sure they know the importance and goals of every task assigned so they realize the importance of what they’re working on and how it benefits the business.
4. Stay engaged. No matter if your intern is working five hours or 40 hours a week, make sure you stay in constant contact with your interns. No one likes to be left waiting and any time they’re waiting, it’s time wasted to your business.
5. Remember they’re working for you. They might be used to their parents giving them everything they need to survive up to this point in their lives, and this is your chance to give them a glimpse at that “real world” experience they’re looking for and need. This is also the opportunity to teach them about professional relationships – be sure to lead by example.
6. Provide constructive criticism. Not everything they do is going to be 100% perfect. Even if they pull a Red Cross orChrysler intern move, work with them to show them how they can improve and get the task done correctly and effectively in the future. Also make sure you ask them why they did something the way they did – they just might teach you something!
What have you learned from managing interns?