So you’ve finally hired your next batch of interns. One thing you need to know: interns are a force not to be reckoned with. These are young millennials with the power to energise your company or become dead weight. Many interns leave their internships with rich knowledge on their bosses’ coffee orders but not as much when it comes to actual work. To be a superb intern manager and help them avoid that fate, you must know how best to manage them, maximise their time, and keep them in professional shape.
In essence, you have to be a wise and caring leader.
Let’s stop wasting time – here are SIX sure-fire ways to excel at managing your new interns.
1. Leading your flock to success
You need to have a really clear picture of your interns – their role, their responsibilities, and what the entire internship is going to look like. You’re not just hiring these kids for six months of filing and data entry, so you definitely need a game plan.
Being able to tell them straight up on day one what’s expected of them will help to speed the onboarding process up. They’re likely to come in with a rough idea of what they’re going to do at your company, but it’s your job to show them the blueprint and cement their understanding. Come up with a structured work plan and show it to them. This way, they’ll know what to do and you’ll know how best to evaluate their performance along the way.
2. Stellar onboarding experiences
It goes without saying, but you should always make your interns feel welcome. What does Day One look like? Plan out the day and let your interns stick to you as you show them around their swanky new office and bring them ‘round to the pantry (and tell them it’s OK to help themselves). Introduce them to their co-workers for the next few months and make sure they know where their seats are.
Take it one step further and take your interns out for lunch. Part of being a superb intern manager is really just being the best orientation committee you can be. Show them the best food places, tell them about the cheapest options available, and make sure they’re well fed!
At the end of Day One, huddle up with your eager interns and review your work plan for the first week and beyond.
3. Plotting a good course
Step up as a superb intern manager and engage your new hires with exciting target- and goal-setting sessions. Make sure to establish distinct milestones in your structured plan for your interns to work towards instead of a vague objective that leaves them feeling underwhelmed. Motivate them with mini goals leading up to a big endpoint, and they’ll feel much more energised.
Think as broadly as possible and figure out how to maximise your interns’ time at your company – and no, we’re not talking about stationery purchases and helping with photocopies. If possible, let your interns take on more responsibilities through an overarching project. Let them lead and be in their own element, and always leave them space for mistakes.
4. Going beyond coffee runs
Coffee is great, but even the most hopeful intern will get sick of the smell of coffee beans after a while. Unless you’re planning to inspire dreams of being a barista in them, get to know your interns and find out their interests. If they happen to enjoy photography and graphic design, consider delegating tasks to them that are related to marketing or design. Even if they joined the company’s operations department, it won’t hurt to let them expand their field of impact.
One way to keep them motivated as they go through their tasks is to explain to them the importance and meaning in what they’re doing. How will this project impact the department and the company on a larger scale? It’s always very inspiring to be shown the bigger picture and to feel like what you’re doing matters.
5. Being the intern lifeline
During the course of your internship, leave your door open for your interns to come to you. Whether they need help or advice, you’ll do well as a superb intern manager if you’re approachable and accessible. Sometimes your interns will have burning questions about the industry, or maybe they simply need clarification on a recent job you’ve given them. Always let them know that you are, in a way, their safety net, and that they’re not left to fend for themselves even if you’ve given them quite a degree of responsibility.
Keep dialogue flowing by scheduling weekly or bi-weekly one-on-one meetings with your interns. Check in on them, ask them how they’re feeling, and help them to process their experiences, successes, and failures in a safe space. Make them feel like their presence does indeed make a difference and encourage them to keep hustling!
6. Be an intern launchpad!
Though internships aren’t long periods of commitment, being a superb intern manager means you’re helping your interns to see the longer game. Invite them to company meetings, workshops, seminars, and conferences – and be their gateway to the industry! Introduce them to higher management, clients, and vendors if it’s possible, and allow them to understand the industry on a deeper level. Help your interns to network and establish their professional image – these are things that will stay with them long after they’ve left you and graduate from school. They’ll be better prepared for the professional life, and they’ll certainly have you to thank.
We’ve all been interns once in our lives. That first step into the professional workplace can be daunting and foreign to someone without prior work experience, which is why we’re sorely in need of dependable, superb intern managers.
In a way, you might find yourself feeling like their “work parent.” But who better to help get them started in their careers than you? Internships are meant to expose them to the industry, the rigour of work culture, and teaching them to be professional through thick and thin.
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