Interns can be a valuable resource in many ways. They can help move your business forward, provide valuable insight and staffing at a low cost, and additionally, help a young person develop practical experience to use on their resume. For an internship to be effective, it must be beneficial to both the business hiring the intern and to the interns themselves.
Here are a few planning tips to help make internships a valuable and meaningful experience for all.
Create a job description.
Too often, interns are hired to “handle all the overflow.” However, an internship will be more valuable if the job duties are spelled out in a document to help target the specialties you are looking for in your intern. Will they be working in sales, marketing, e-commerce, product development, or another area of the business? What are the minimum skills required to perform the duties of the internship?
Plan how you will mentor them.
Interns need practical experience to augment their education. What will your company be able to teach the intern to help them demonstrate this experience? Take the time to explain your business and coach the intern throughout the internship. Offering feedback and coaching them in business practices will be helpful for their futures.
Promote your internal placement rate.
It’s important to keep in mind that interns are typically college students and as such, usually temporary. However, internships can become a natural feeder system into entry level roles in your business, so if your company makes a practice of hiring interns, or can demonstrate a placement rate or percentage, many top-level interns may give preference to companies that can demonstrate this practice.
Be realistic in your expectation.
It’s important to note that although interns can be highly educated and ambitious, they lack practical experience. Asking them to “build a website” might not be practical, it may make more sense to give them smaller roles within the project to give them experience and help them recognize specific areas of talent.
Don’t underestimate them.
Too often interns are given the “grunt” work that no one else wants or has time to do. College students learn cutting-edge strategies, techniques, and technology in their field. Implementing an internship program gives you direct access to recent developments. As much as your interns will learn from you, you can also learn from them.
Harness their energy.
Interns generally come into a company eager to learn and energetic. These attributes are valuable and can contribute greatly to a company’s culture.
Utilize their fresh perspective.
The benefit of any new employee is that they don’t have preconceived notions about what is possible. The fresh perspective that an intern can bring to a company is a valuable tool to obtaining novel perspectives that can break up the status quo, as well as discovering specialized strengths and skill sets.
Give them perspective.
While an intern may work for your company in a targeted role (ie marketing, sales, accounting, etc) it’s a great idea to expose them to other areas of the business to help them shape their perspective, experience, and hone in on where they might want to fit in their future roles.