It's all in the delivery.
Internships can get a bad rap. And it's easy to see why. Just like freshmen in college or a rookie on the team, they're synonymous with doing the grunt work. Assigned mundane and menial tasks, they take on what that no one else wants to do as a form of initiation, or paying their dues.
Taking this approach can cost your company incredible talent. It's also a surefire way to gain your business a bad reputation, one that could seriously hurt you in the future. That summer intern that you only tasked to getting you coffee and picking up dry cleaning may actually be a brilliant creative talent that will definitely remember to reject your recruiter five years from now.
Despite the importance and responsibility of fostering the next generation, many companies do not have a strong internship program in place. And they're missing out. It'stime to break the stigma around an intern and start offering valuable skills that will help both you and them.
Whether you're looking to onboard one or multiple interns to your team, having a reliable program will only help. Take a look at these best practices and tips on how to turn your internship program from good to great.
1. Get them involved from the get-go.
What will give your interns the most value? By keeping giving them real experience on what the day-to-day of a full-time position would entail. Include the newly college grads in strategy meetings, quarterly reporting, and other important aspects that are integral for a successful business. This will not only make them feel part of the team, but it will also give them a good sense on whether or not this role or company is right for them.
2. Pair them with a mentor.
Mentorship partnerships are so important for the internship process. Put yourself in their shoes. Remember interns sign up for experience, not to sit at a desk with no direction. Having a confidante that will help guide them, answer questions, and provide feedback will instill more confidence in the role while also making them more productive.
Staff mentorship programs are a total win-win. In addition to helping your intern succeed, it will also allow the employee you've assigned to mentor learn more about management and leadership, preparing them for that next step in their career.
3. Define a clear plan of action.
No matter how busy you feel, fetching coffee should never be part of the job. An effective internship program will give the new hire a better understanding of the company, position, and industry overall.
Take the time to plan out the tasks you're going to need your intern to accomplish. I like to use a three-tier system. With each tier, they have the opportunity to prove their abilities and work their way to tasks that carry more importance. Be realistic about what responsibilities can be handed off to them and clear about the expectations.
4. Give them adequate training.
Just like you would when onboarding a new employee, set aside at least one week in the beginning of their role towards orientation. This is where you will address the basics, like the company values, expectations, and goals for both you and them. Once you have all the must-knows covered, you can start preparing them with the tools they will need to get to work.
5. Have regular check-ins and feedback.
It's no secret that internships are a quick stint, most running from three to six months. With such a fast turnover, it's important to give feedback early and often. Having scheduled face-to-face reviews works best. Sitting down with your intern every three to four weeks will provide you with an opportunity to ask questions, correct any performance issues and offer advice for areas that could use improvement.