Thursday, April 24, 2014

Springtime for Interns

Leveraging interns is one of the cheapest ways for your organization to get work done and possibly find a new full-time employee in the process. And for interns, it can provide great opportunities to explore different areas of business. With summer around the corner a fresh crop of recent graduates can offer many options to choose from. Creating effective process to make the most of an employer-intern relationship has benefits on both sides of the desk.

Define Objectives
What deliverables do you expect to see at the end of the internship? Are your expectations realistic? Skill sets and effort levels can vary among interns, and so can their work availability. Sometimes you will have to adjust your objectives as you go, but having a set of initial requirements prepared will allow you to focus on finding the right intern for the job and setting the right expectancies from a get go

While it may seem safer to set conservative goals, the opportunity for interns to take on more challenging projects can open up better learning opportunities and bring greater rewards for both parties.

Create a Structure
Structure relates to the projects the intern will undertake or participate in as well as specific work processes and associated mutual expectations. With regard to the first, depending on the time the intern is available, the internship can be structured as a series of smaller projects that may or may not roll into one major deliverable. This way the intern will not only have a chance to complete a number of different assignments, but will also get feedback for each one and a sense of accomplishment in the process. And, should the internship be interrupted, you will still have some work completed. Setting the work schedule and leveraging collaborative project management tools (many of which are available for free) for structuring work activities will help ensure that you remain on the same page without having to keep a constant check on your intern.

Don’t Forget the Human Factor
That being said, don’t relegate the intern to the “temporary employee corner”. Be there for him when he has questions. Introduce him to everyone and try to make him feel like a genuine member of the team. That will make your intern much more confident about approaching colleagues for help.

Remember, whether this is your intern’s first experience in the workplace or not – make sure it’s a fun one! Invite interns to the company outing, and let them chime in with a few suggestions of their own – they might just know the coolest place in town!

What are some of the most effective practices you use for managing your interns?

Rachel, Dan, & Dmitry

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