5 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Intern

By Adam Robinson,
September 24, 2012

With the new school year in full swing, college students are back on the hunt for internships. Not only are they eager to find a position where they’ll learn something, but getting that first glimpse at the “real-world” can be electrifying. That excitement, however, isn’t always felt by all involved. 

The thought of hiring an intern can be overwhelming, even nerve racking.  From stories about interns who were complete nightmares to those who just watched YouTube videos all day, it’s understandable that hiring managers don’t want to risk bringing an intern onto the team. (For those of you who haven’t heard any intern horror stories, read: “10 Intern Horror Stories That May Make You Reconsider Hiring One”). Or maybe you’re just worried a millennial won’t fit in with the office culture. Whatever the case may be, the value an intern can bring to the team is immense. After all, more and more companies are hiring their interns upon completion of their degree. PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of Glassdoor’s “Best Places to Work,” hires 70% of new candidates from it’s internship program.

Take it from Hireology’s newest intern; we’re not all that bad.  

Here are five tips to ensure return on the investment you have put in your intern:

1. Treat us like a full time employee

Showing us the same amount of respect as you do your colleagues will make us feel like we are a part of the team. The sooner we become comfortable in the position, the sooner we’ll contribute new ideas. Plus, we’ll quickly recognize that your expectations are just as high for us as they are full time employees, and this drives us to work even harder to impress you. 

2. Keep some slack in the leash

It can be tempting to hover over us to make sure we’re doing everything your way; but please, please don’t do that. Not only does hovering make us uncomfortable, it tends to make us doubt our abilities. Give us guidelines, check in occasionally and at least pretend to trust us. You hired us for a reason, now let us prove you made the right decision. We’re going to make mistakes, but we’re going to learn more from those mistakes than from your cautionary tales.

3. Be open

We’re going to have questions, lots of questions.  Don’t get annoyed when we come to you for guidance or clarification.  We look up to you and value any insight you share with us. But in turn, we hope that you listen to any insights we may share.  We’re full of ideas – some better than others, but new ideas nonetheless. Don’t immediately brush them aside, at least give us time to explain.

4. Let us wander

Even if we think we know exactly what we want to do after graduation, chances are that’s not entirely the case.  By allowing us to work on a variety projects, we’re able to see what we’d like to spend the rest of our lives doing. However, this doesn’t mean you should send your marketing intern to work with the engineering team, but giving us a medley of projects keeps us challenged and inspired. 

5. Give us feedback

In school we’re constantly getting feedback on papers, discussions, presentations – the whole sha-bang. We’re not expecting a grade on each project we complete over the duration of our internship, but sitting down with you to go over what we did well and areas that we can improve on is a huge help.  We don’t need a complete analysis, but a quick meeting to get your feedback can be extremely beneficial.  

We know you have expectations, but so do we. Paid or unpaid, we want to get every bit of knowledge out of the experience as possible. Although it’s nice having someone around the office to assign those menial tasks to, that’s not what we want to be doing.  Of course we understand that those types of tasks are part of the job, but it’s not valuable to us, or even to the company, to only be doing that. 

All we ask is that by the end of our internship we leave with real-world application of what we have learned in school, and maybe a few more LinkedIn connections.  

Want even more tips on hiring millennials, download our free guide!

About the Author

Adam co-founded Hireology with the mission to help growing companies make better hiring decisions through data and better technology. Adam is passionate about entrepreneurship, donating time to a number of organizations that support the entrepreneurial cause. Adam completed his undergraduate study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and received his MBA from DePaul University in Chicago, IL.

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