It’s internship season, whether your summer interns are milling the hallways or college seniors are on your doorstep, inquiring about a fall semester program. Interns are a valuable subset of the professional world. They are young, which means they have energy (despite call time being before noon), and they’re seeking professional guidance from the experts: you. Most interns are still figuring out what their professional path will be, so there are growth opportunities on both sides. We’ve put together a checklist for internship management so your company benefits from an extra pair of hands, and your intern finishes the program with new skills and experiences.
- Establish an internship adviser. Most college internship programs require an overseer to report on the intern’s successes and opportunities for growth. This employee should have adequate knowledge and time to create the best overall experience for both your company and the intern.
- Create a “lesson plan.” Internships should not function like a classroom, but there should be a plan or specific project for the intern. The intern should be assigned tasks that will provide value to the company, but isn’t on everyone’s high-priority list. Think about the one long-term project that everyone always says would be a great idea, but there isn’t enough time in the day to focus on it over time. With the direction of an adviser, an intern can spearhead this project, providing value to the company and a potential success story for the intern to report on in future professional environments.
- Use your intern’s strengths and interests. In recent years, internships have become social media marketing projects simply because interns are young and in tune with social media. But just because your intern uses Instagram in their personal life doesn’t mean they’re interested in using it professionally or even that they’re good at social media in general. Find out what drives your intern so you can develop projects that are tailored to their strengths and will produce a quality outcome.
- Respect the learning curve. For many interns, this may be their first foray into a professional environment, so conversations and lessons about professionalism should be a part of the program. Interns should go through the same hiring programs that regular employees do, so check with HR to find out what introductory materials are available. No matter the situation, young people learn from the more experienced players around them, and are looking to make a good impression, so chances are they’re going to model the behavior of their colleagues and supervisors.
Internships can be a valuable part of a young person’s academic experience, so when you bring an intern into your work space, do your best to create a well-rounded program that serves the interests of your company and your intern. Our intern in Marketing Services, Joel Copenheaver, has been a great addition to the team this summer. Look for his intern profile in next week’s blog!