“So, what are you doing after you graduate?” — A question students heading into their sophomore, junior and senior years are often pressured to answer. Many line up dream jobs in their head, but haven’t yet figured out how to get there. How do they solve the problem? Internships!
I feared applying to internships for different reasons, but the one that worried me the most was becoming the coffee-grabbing, paper-filing, no-name intern–you know, the kind you see in the movies. I filtered through job postings, trying to determine if “assist with execution of corporate sponsorship initiatives” meant that I would be leading a meeting, sitting in on one or just bringing in a tray of snacks (because nourishment is important for creativity).
I was fortunate enough to hold three different internships, and my experience allowed me to compile this list with tips on how to treat your social media, web development or general intern.
Let them know what you’re up to. Odds are, your intern applied for the position because they want to have a job like yours in a few years. He or she wants to know what meetings you go to, the people with whom you interact and your daily tasks–this allows the intern to figure out if the job really is for them. Inviting interns into a meeting and letting them sit at the table gives them more insight than you could explain.
Ask for their opinions. Sometimes, it takes a fresh, outside perspective to see areas of improvement for your company. Who better than your spunky, new, young intern to help? Don’t be afraid to try some of those intern-initiated ideas! Your intern will run home and tell Mom about it!
Hold them accountable. Yes, interns are students and, yes, they mess up; but, treat them the same way you would treat another employee. Use the mistake as a learning opportunity. In the end, it’s a good way for them to learn how your company works.
Ask them that terrifying question. You’re settled in your job, no doubt. That means you’re connected. The sooner you know where your intern wants to be in the next two, five or 10 years, the more likely you are to find a connection that can help them get there (not to mention if that helping hand is you!) So, ask them!
Let them be creative. Find jobs that you would do yourself and give them to your intern, letting him or her run with it. There’s no guarantee on the success of the outcome, but it might be worth the risk. It will also instill a sense of pride, accomplishment and confidence in your intern that will improve their performance in the future – where they can tackle even bigger jobs.
The relationship you build with your intern will benefit both of you in the long run, especially if they are interested in staying with your company for more than just an internship. Allowing them to speak up, get creative and work hard are just a few ways to make sure they enjoy their time at your company–and learn while doing so.
Oh, and a paycheck isn’t a bad reason for us to stick around, either.
Editor’s Note: Jackie interned for Link Publisher Laura Kenyon this year and lived to tell about it.