Taking on interns isn't for the weak of heart or mind. They need dedicated supervision, feedback, and meaningful projects. Can you commit?
Let's face it: better intern managers make better interns and generate knockout internship programs. Effective intern management can drastically improve your bottom line and your talent pipeline. Whether it's your first time managing an intern or your 100th, there's always room for improvement. Your interns are there to learn, and it's your job to help steer them through the potentially rocky terrain first-time experiences within the industry and at your company.
Follow these 10 tips to generate a beneficial experience for both you and your interns:
1. Be Superman or Wonder Woman. Do you enjoy sharing your expertise with students or new graduates? As an intern manager, the educational environment of an internship program calls for you to take on a variety of different roles including supervisor, mentor, gatekeeper, and educator. Toss out your typical hands-off approach to management and create an open-door policy to ensure your intern can come to you whenever they need you.
2. Assign one overarching project. Aside from daily tasks, your intern should be delegated one large, long-term project to undertake during their time with you. They will lead this project themselves, but you should be there to guide them in times of need. Depending on their position and your company, this could be a video project, social media campaign, marketing campaign, or even a website. This is their chance to learn, remain focused on a larger end-goal during their downtime, add value to the company, and gain a nice piece for their resume and portfolio.
3. Set quantifiable weekly goals. While interns should be treated with the same respect as other employees, there's far more guidance and check-ins involved in their management. Create clear project goals and schedule benchmarks to gain a better understanding of how they're performing. For example, your intern's overarching project should be completed in drafts and and reviewed often. This will help you keep them moving in the right direction.
4. Meet weekly. Set the standard for communication early by scheduling a casual 30-minute conversation one day every week. This will give you a chance to assign your intern objectives, answer any questions, and help them confidently move forward with their projects. These meetings will also be important for building a professional relationship with your intern.
5. Find out your intern's interests and roll with it. Sure, you may have hired your intern for a specific role, but they may surprise you with their other passions and skills. You may find out your social media intern has a knack for graphic design. Ask your interns what they'd like to learn and accomplish during their time with you, then work to create projects and goals to ensure their time at the company is meaningful.
6. Show them the big picture. Your interns are with you to immerse themselves in the industry and learn the ropes at your company. Share insight into how their day-to-day tasks and overarching projects are benefiting the company as a whole, as well as playing into the industry. If your interns understand where they fit into the big picture, they'll be more engaged, motivated, and passionate about their work.
7. Help them network. As an intern manager, one of your duties should be helping your interns network whenever possible. In the beginning, this means introducing them to the entire staff and including them at company meetings and functions. It should lead into introducing them to clients, vendors, and even valuable business connections. If possible, invite your interns to attend industry networking events, conferences, seminars, and attend after-hour outings.
8. Don't forget the fun factor. You're more apt to learn and enjoy your work when you're having a good time doing it. Taking on interns is an exciting event--they've got fresh ideas, big goals, and can-do attitudes. Be sure to establish a fun environment for your interns that matches your budget. This may mean catering lunch every Friday or taking your interns on a weekend retreat.
What's one effective strategy you've found successful for managing interns?
Ashley Mosley is Community Engagement Manager of InternMatch, an online platform connecting the best intern candidates and employers. Connect with Ashley and InternMatch on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.