If you’ve worked with interns before, you’ve probably experienced some of the common pitfalls. But internships done right can be extremely beneficial for you and the interns. They offer interns valuable work experience while taking tasks off your plate. To make your internship program a success, we’ve put together a few things to keep in mind when hiring and managing interns.
No one likes busy work. It’s okay to have interns help with mundane tasks but make sure you also offer them more meaningful work and include them in meetings that help them learn and grow. The more they feel like they are contributing, instead of just punching a clock, the more engaged they will be at work.
Skimping on the interview process is a sure way to crash and burn down the line. When you treat the hiring process like you would for any other employee role, you’ll ask more meaningful questions and uncover the right candidates. Here are a few great questions to ask yourself as you interview each candidate:
Internship laws have changed over time. Make sure you understand whether you are required to pay your intern a salary or if they can work for you in exchange for college credit. Use this “primary beneficiary test” to determine whether your intern is an employee under The Fair Labor Standards Act.
Sometimes interns fail because they were not adequately onboarded. You’ll want to provide them with a company handbook, calling out dress codes and other important office policies so you set them up for success. Also, help them get to know the key staff they may interact with and how various departments interface with yours.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it.” While you might get lucky with a go-getter, self-motivated intern, most of your candidates will need clear internship objectives and performance goals laid out for them. The more specific you can be, the better. With these clear goals, you can regularly meet with them to review how things are going. You also have specific benchmarks to call their attention to when they are not performing. If you are paying an intern, this also gives you leverage to let them go if they don’t meet the standards agreed upon when you hired them. Remember that interns are there to learn, so give them constructive feedback they can understand and offer a second or maybe even third chance to adjust.
Managing interns is an incredible opportunity to grow your management skills—something you can leverage in your next role. If you follow these five tips, you’ll create a win-win scenario for everyone.