How to Make the Most of Your Summer Interns
Internship season is here: that all-familiar time when the newest crop of ambitious college students will flood your office, bright-eyed and ready to contribute. We all know that these interns are the rare few who get the opportunity to infiltrate our culture and learn our business, yet, just how much and how well they will contribute to your business really depends on you — the employer.
Let’s face it, we’re all busy and pressed for time, but we also all know that interns are our chance to scout for talent and to find our future super stars. So this summer, think about how you can provide the most positive and rewarding experience possible for your interns. Here are some key ways to develop a valuable intern program that ensures the intern’s time will be meaningful and your time will have been worthwhile:
Interns should begin an immersion process immediately when accepted into the program and continue it throughout their first few days. Use their starting days to communicate to them exactly what their tasks will be, how they will be evaluated and the office policies and trends. Ask them about their expectations, what they want to learn and their skill sets and goals. Preparing interns early on will give them a clear picture of what their jobs entail and start the summer positively.
Guidance from one key person is paramount! Taking direction from multiple people can get confusing, and having one intern coordinator or mentor is the easiest way to keep everyone organized. These relationships give interns a future contact and can give the mentor managerial experience.
Create a constant pipeline of feedback between your interns and their supervisors. Frequently offering positive and constructive remarks throughout the entire summer, instead of only during monthly or mid-summer check-ins, will help interns grow and learn each day. Similarly, ask them about the internships and use their comments and observations to make the internship process stronger. Recurrent communication makes for a much more productive program.
Give your interns real work and real experiences that mirror some of what your deal with every day. This is not only a great way for them to learn new things, but it can also be a way to see if an intern could be a potential fit for full-time employment in the future. Coffee, busy work and errands will always be part of internships, but the more you can test what interns are capable of, the more you can make sure you don't miss a diamond in the rough.
Interns’ last days are just as important as their first! As we said, a thriving intern can turn into a successful employee. Sit with your interns and discuss their summer working with your company. Reflect upon their original goals and expectations and compare them to their actual experiences. Create an offboarding survey for every intern to fill out on his or her last day to understand what your company does well and how to improve. If both you and an intern valued this time, set up a system for keeping in touch. Even if interns don’t end up being employees, everyone who works for your company represents who you are and what you stand for — making positive, life-long impressions is key.