Ten Concerns of Interns
1. Give us real work!
It can’t be said too many times that interns want to work and learn. An internship can help you get a job done that you couldn’t otherwise, right? If you’ve brought on an intern as a recruitment tool, then how will you be able to assess their abilities? It just makes sense to utilize your interns well.
2. Do what you say, and say what you do!
Be honest with your interns about what they can expect during their internship. If the job will require stuffing some envelopes, then make that clear. But if you tell the intern they will be researching a project, and they spend 90% of their time doing “grunt work,” then bad feelings will develop. Honesty doesn’t cost you anything, and it will make the interns feel that much more respected.
3. We like feedback!
Remember that interns are students, and they may not have the business skills and experiences that you take for granted. If your intern makes an oversight, just pull him or her aside and explain how the situation should be handled in the future.
4. We want to be included too!
Is there a staff meeting that they can attend? Can they quietly tag along to that next project meeting? Headed to lunch with a couple of people in the office? Please include them in the daily life of your workplace. After all, if you provide a little more perspective on the intern’s work, the product will be much better.
5. Please explain.
When you assign work, make sure you give a detailed explanation. While the work may seem trivial and obvious to you, it may not be obvious to someone who’s never done it before. Patience and a few extra minutes at the beginning will pay off later when your intern can produce good work independently.
6. I want a mentor!
Make sure that interns have a mentor or supervisor to provide guidance. Make it someone who truly likes to teach, and the experience will be even better.
7. A minute of your time please.
The best mentor in the world is useless if he or she can’t or won’t spend the necessary time mentoring. As newcomers, interns may not speak up if they’re feeling ignored, so the burden of making sure they’re okay is on the mentor. If the busiest person in the office wants to be the designated mentor, he or she should schedule regular times to meet with the intern.
8. Be prepared!
That wonderful day has arrived and the intern goes to start their internship only to learn that no one knew they were coming, and there is no place for them to work.
9. Um…I need a chair.
It is amazing how many employers hire an intern and don’t think about the fact that they will need a desk, chair, phone and a computer in order to do the task assigned. It is no fun, and not efficient to move an intern from desk to desk as people are out one day to the next. If you want to get a job done, you need to supply the intern with the tools to do the job.
10. Show me the money (as best you can).
While each internship is different, and each industry has its own personality, remember that interns have expenses. Your organization may not be in a position to pay much, but anything can help. Maybe you can help pay for their parking, take them to lunch every so often, or develop some other creative way to assist them.
Compiled and edited by Michael True, Messiah College, Grantham, PA.
Excerpted from Starting and Maintaining a Quality Internship Program, 5th edition, 2007.
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