How You Can Make the Most Out of Your Interns

HATCHME / BEST HIRING PRACTICES

How You Can Make the Most Out of Your Interns

Written by Jess Ekstrom, CEO and Founder of HeadbandsOfHope.com, Speaker and Author.

When I was in college, I was addicted to internships. I interned at DisneyA�World, Make-A-WishA�and the Today show. I loved feeling that I was in the real world and doing something for more than just a grade. Once I started my business, I was eager to hire interns who were just as passionate and committed to those positionsA�as I had been in college.

I learned the hard way, however, that managing internsA�is easier said than done. I would find students who were on fire out of the gate, but who, deeper into the semester,A�would fizzle out. Or, Ia��d find a student who would say anything to get the position, then later make meA�realize that he or she really just wanted a resume booster.

A�Not all students are like this, of course, but it can happen. Great interns can do wonders for your business in a lot of ways and receive a great experience, as well.

And, beyond their stereotype of involving onlyA�tedious and time-consuming tasks, internshipsA�can bring in a fresh, young outlook for your company. Here are some ways to get the most out of your intern:

1. Ask for their schedules, including tests or big projects.

Understand that school comes first. Understand, too, that, sometimes, interns can be hesitant to let their supervisors know about a testA�or big class projectA�for fear of letting them down. But, reassure the intern.A�Before the internship starts, have the internA�send you a class schedule, including any extracurricular activities. When he or she facesA�a test or a big project, have him or herA�share the date so you dona��t assign a big task the day before. When you respect interns’ schedules, theya��ll be more inclined to make the most of their time to help you.

2. Set tangible goals.

Instead of telling interns just to a�?work hard,a�? create tangible goals they can aim for. If theya��re doing social media, for you, create a goal for the number of new followers they should aim for eachA�week, or specify how many posts they should do. Ita��s easier for them to stay motivated when they have a physical number to reach for instead of the simplistic goal to a�?doA�a good job.a�?

3. Create rewards.

Whether the reward you offer is a paid internship or college credit or a travel stipend,A�mix things up by offering interns these and other incentives. When they reach a certain goal, do you have a product to offer them? A gift card? The reward doesna��t have to be big, but it makes things more fun and shows interns that youa��re watching, and you appreciate their work.

4. Figure out what theya��re good at.

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A lot of college students dona��t really know what theya��re good at yet because they havena��t tested their skills in the work world. Therefore, it might be hard for them to tell you what they excel in. So, start off giving them a variety of different tasks and see which ones they’re particularly good at.

5. Give them more responsibility.

If the only responsibility you give your interns is licking envelopes and brewingA�coffee, youa��ll never know their value. Your internship — which should always be a learning experience, rather than busy work — will mean nothing.A�Ia��m not saying you have to push them on stage at a press conference to speak on behalf of the company, but perhapsA�you could have them write a press release and send it to you to look over. There are ways to give an intern more responsibility without any external risk of theirA�messing up. Treat interns like employees, and theya��ll be more inclined to work like one.

6. Give them feedback.

When I first saw interns making mistakes or doing something wrong, Ia��d slowly back away from them and replace them with someone else. But then I remembered my own internships:A�I had really appreciated supervisors who would give me constructive criticism so I could fix the problem theA�next time. With that in mind,A�I have started to be more honest with my interns, to give them an opportunity to grow. You should do the same:A�Whether an intern ends up working for you or not, you can feel confident that youa��re shaping the future workforce.

CREDIT: ENTREPRENEURSHIP INDIA