Working with Interns

Now that we have explained how to hire interns and a basic outline of what an intern can and can’t do, it is time to get into some of the ways to maximize interns’ time and experience while making them an asset to your business.

Start Small

While it seems appealing to hire 50 interns all at once, it will likely be overwhelming. It is important to start with fewer interns then adjust as you learn how to manage interns properly. Hiring interns means that you will be working on a mentor role, fielding emails and questions, and managing the group you hire.

Just like over hiring, over assigning is an equal problem. Many college students have never had a professional job. They may have worked, but likely not in an office or corporate environment. Don’t immediately give them a list of 50 things to do. Instead pick the ten most important and assign them to interns in order of importance. As they move through the list give them more to do that matches their skill and education level.

Set Them up for Success

While interns are there to learn, it is important to not throw them in to impossible tasks right away. If you run a restaurant, start with having them shadowing the floor manager. Not running the dinner shift on a Friday by themselves. Like any new employee, it is important that interns have a chance to learn properly and gain new skills. By providing them support and access to your best employees you are giving them the opportunity to learn properly and then be successful both in their internship and in their future careers.

Answer Questions

One of the most important parts of running a successful internship program is making yourself available. As a business owner you have access to a wealth of experience and knowledge that many don’t own. Sometimes it is easier to pass off interns as the responsibility of other employees, but they can gather knowledge from you that they can’t get from anyone else.

Take interns out to working lunches, hold meetings in your office, and make yourself available as regularly as you can. Building professional relationships with interns where you act as a mentor is important to their development as well as your experience running an intern program. Regular interactions with interns will make their internship better as well as give you insight on how to improve your program.

Communicate with the College/University

By providing the school where the intern attends with information and feedback, you are creating a better internship experience for everyone. It is important that you report back both positive and negative news. The college is there to provide support in the intern process. They can also help guide you as you assign tasks and responsibilities for interns. College advisors have extensive knowledge on what is appropriate and possible for interns. They can guide you to what responsibilities best match the students’ majors and areas of focus. This relationship is imperative for a good intern experience.

In the end, interns are an excellent addition for most businesses. It provides experience for students and businesses with access to potential future employees. The most important thing is to have a plan that is easily executable, fair to both you and the intern, and creates a lasting relationship with the school. An internship program is beneficial and important for students and businesses alike.


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