Hiring interns can and should be a mutually beneficial situation. Unfortunately, things don’t always work out that way. All too often, for instance, interns are primarily assigned the pointless, menial tasks that full-time employees shy away from, and they come away without gaining any appreciable skills, knowledge or connections.
Other times, employers invest considerable amounts of time and money training interns but basically drop the ball after that. Avoid these and other pitfalls by keeping the following points in mind. A business of any size can get value of interns and can help young people build their knowledge base and experience.
Considerations to Make when Hiring Interns
Be Straightforward About Job Opportunities – Before actually hiring an intern, be forthcoming about how likely they are to be hired full time by your company. Further, clearly explain the types of skills and experiences that they will gain while interning and about how those skills and experiences will help them find full-time work later.
Assign a Mentor – Interns often flounder because they have no one to turn to while on the job. Eliminate this issue by assigning a mentor to your intern. Ensure that the mentor is enthusiastic about the assignment by clearly conveying how much time they will be spending with the intern and by reassigning some of their workload, if necessary.
Have Busywork Lined Up – Ideally, interns should primarily focus on projects that directly affect the company. However, there will still be plenty of downtime, so develop a master list of simple, mindless tasks that the intern can chip away at when they’re not working on various projects.
Assign a Long-Term Project – Assign your intern a project that will consume most of the time that they spend with your company. Make sure to provide a clearly defined goal. Check in with the intern regularly to assess their progress and to address any issues that may arise.
Pay Them – Unpaid internships are often considered unethical (depending on the space). If this program is really in their interest you could just offer a stipend but don’t use internships as an excuse to not pay staff. Pay need not be the reason they do the internship but it should be a component so that they can focus on their work.
Provide Regular Feedback – Your intern needs to know how they are faring with the projects to which they are assigned in order to derive real value from them. In addition to regular performance reviews at the mid-point and end of their internship, make a point of providing feedback in real time on a consistent basis. This includes not only providing constructive criticism but giving praise when it is warranted.
Give Your Intern a Proper Send-Off – Don’t let your intern’s last day come and go without having some sort of official send-off. At the very least, gather the main players in the project on which the intern worked and showcase the intern’s contributions and progress. Have your intern sit down for an exit interview, and be open and honest about their strengths and weaknesses. At the same time, encourage the intern to be candid about their experiences with your firm. Use their feedback to further improve your internship program down the line.
Create a Hiring Pipeline – You should be trying to hire the best interns at the end of their internship. Offer them a job when they graduate or try to get them to reccomend people for the following year. This’ll make the program significantly more cost effective over time.
When handled properly, internships provide considerable benefits for employers and interns alike. Don’t just dive in, however. Carefully plan the main aspects of the internship to ensure a positive experience for your company and your intern.
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