We’ve all heard the horror stories about inept interns, but it’s time to face facts. If your interns aren’t performing up to your standards, it might be your own fault. You may have hired the wrong person, or thrown them into the fire without establishing clear goals and objectives, but if want to give to fresh young talent a chance to get involved in your business and help you with key tasks, you need to be ready to welcome them in the best way.
With many young people, students and graduates looking for ways to expand on their studies and stand out in the job market, it’s also a great way to give back and nurture the next generation of the workforce.
Here, we have collected a few tips for employers when it comes to ensuring that your interns will add something to your company. This strategy just requires you to ask yourself some questions, before the interns even arrive. Once you have the answers to these questions, an intern learning plan is relatively easy to develop, maintain, and measure!
1. What do I need my intern to learn in the first week to be successful going forward?
You’ve got to make sure you cover the basics. You can’t expect your intern to pick up on all the industry jargon, company procedures, and office nuances right off the bat.
2. What does the intern want to learn during the first week?
Try to ensure that some of your objectives align with the intern’s interests and passions. You should strive to make the intern feel “successful and like they are already part of the team.
3. Over the course of the internship, what does the intern need to know to make this a successful step in their career?
Here’s a hint: Your intern can’t put “excellent at coffee runs” on their résumé. While some menial tasks are to be expected in most internships, try to make sure you’re not just putting drudge work on their plate.
4. What skills, soft or technical, do they want to develop during the internship?
You should also identify the person within your organization who can help the intern hone those skills. You might consider which skills have been most helpful to your own career, or to past interns — or, ask them before they show up for work that first day.
5. What influencers or mentors does your intern want to meet during this internship?
Consider mentors both within your organization, such as executives, founders, and colleagues, or outside your company, like vendors, customers, and industry gurus!
Take care of your interns, and you’ll be setting the stage for your mutual success: the final step, once you’ve found a great intern, is keeping hold of them. And, keeping them happy and motivated! So many work experience horror stories come from a lack of work, direction or support from the employer – and this can lead to disengaged interns who don’t add value to your business and can cause you more energy and resource than what you get in return.
As always this is a two-way street, so nurture your new intern and give them as much guidance and support as you can. Recognise that they may be new to the working world and therefore might need additional guidance or training. A tip that has served many businesses offering internships well is treating your intern like they’re your best friend’s kid – you’ll want to do the best for them and motivate them to become a valuable part of your team and potentially a future employee.
How’s your company doing in welcoming and onboarding interns? Are they aligned with long-term objectives and projects since day 1? Share with us your experience in the comments section below!