Interns are like Play-Doh. We’re easy to find, easy to train, but if you leave us out to dry by ourselves we might stiffen up and become molded in a way that can’t be changed. As an intern for ExactHire, I’ve been offered the ability to work on different projects and writing assignments, and have been included in various company culture activities all the while being treated as an equal (that still has much to learn). With this internship, and my previous ones, I’ve been very lucky to find individuals and mentors that have helped mold me into a Play-Doh sculpture that is confident in its ability to adapt and change. The tricky part is that not all internships are that great, so in order to really get the full potential out of your employee, there are a few key elements to follow.
They Have No Idea What They are Doing
We talk a big game through the interview, truly believing that we can handle anything that you throw at us, but once you sit us down at our desk for the first time, we have a monumental freak out. We can’t remember the first thing about our marketing vocab words or how to code in a simple HTML Heading 2.
The key is to comfort your intern, pretend they are approaching a work experience like this for the very first time – because they probably are. Comforting is not the same thing as hand holding. Many employers start the internship or interview with, “we’re not here to hold your hand or coddle you through this, we need you to hit the ground running,” and trust me, we want to do just that. But, we can only help as much as you allow us.
- Be clear and set expectations with us. Do you want an intern that is only there for the coffee runs or do you want someone that could actually improve your department?
- Don’t get frustrated if we ask the same question two or three times. If your intern is asking more than five times, then maybe get a little angry, but most of the time we just want to make sure we’re giving you the exact results you wanted.
- Set an example. Reminisce with us on your own internship days. We have no idea what to expect from the new people, business, or material so we really appreciate when you’re there to make us feel like we’re not the plague, speaking of which…
Interns are Not the Plague
I know that some employers dislike the idea of interns. It makes sense, we’re only there for a short period and you spend most of your time teaching us valuable skills that may not be used within your own four walls. Teaching and employing interns is a selfless (but not a thankless) act. To ensure that no suspicious or lasting symptoms of a potential intern plague linger (decreased work activity, too many hours on facebook, etc.) there are a few ways to keep you and your intern engaged.
- Though we are not the plague, we do like to integrate into each department at least once (if possible) whether it’s through sitting in on meetings or encouraging us to ask questions that may not pertain to our own assignments. Interns want to learn and we want to help you as best as we can; therefore, by getting a view of the bigger picture, we are able to really focus on how to best approach what you need from us.
- We are responsible. Interns often don’t get recognized for the fact that they are taking the initiative to gain experience before leaving formal schooling. The fact that you have found someone that wants to learn from you while helping better your company is something to be appreciative of, especially when your intern is most likely eternally grateful for the opportunity you are giving them.
- We can help you learn too! Internships are a great way to bring in a new set of eyes and energy. Additionally, if your organization is not yet sure it is ready for a full-time position in a certain area, an internship experience allows the employer to essentially “try before you buy.” The best part is, if you really like the work your intern does, they are always looking for a full time job after graduation!
Interns can be exciting, creative, and tech-savvy–but most of all they are grateful. As an intern, I can’t thank my current and previous employers enough for the opportunity to intern within their companies. If you’re interested in finding an intern or setting up an internship program, use ExactHire’s HireCentric applicant tracking system to find the perfect candidate!