These days most of us could use an extra set of hands around the office -- even better if that set of hands costs you nothing and allows you to mold the next generation of worker. Think intern!
With school about to start, now is a great time to reach out and find an intern that can add value to your business. Today, my guest blogger is going to tell you just how to hire an intern and make the experience a good one for all.
Lauren Berger is known as "The Intern Queen" and author of ALL WORK NO PAY: Finding An Internship, Building Your Resume, Making Connections, and Gaining Job Experience. Berger specializes in internship, career, and entrepreneurship advice for young people. She personally work with employers and help them find interns and entry-level candidates. You can contact her HERE. Another great resource is the career centers at colleges and universities in their area.
We read often about what students need to know. But what about employers? How do they know how to structure their programs and provide beneficial experiences for their interns? Here are 5 ways employers can improve their internship programs:
1. Structure Your Program. When a student starts an internship at your company they should have a clear agenda. A start date, end date, mid-way evaluation, and exit interview should be on the calendar and both parties must be aware. The intern should fully understand the time requirement and days/nights he or she is required to stay late or work events outside of typical office hours.
2. What Perks Can You Add? An employer should always be thinking about value. The student is using the experience to determine if this is the right industry and company for them. How can you help them figure that out? Perhaps you can add a speakers series or a weekly lunch with executives.
3. Understand the intern's goals. In the initial interview, establish an understanding of the students you hire. What do they want to do? Is your company a place where they can really figure out if their "dream job" is their "dream job"? Think about what you can do to help them learn more about themselves and their personal and professional goals. By asking the students about what they want to do (throughout the course of the internship) you will create more valuable work for them. For example, I have an intern this semester who told me during our mid-way evaluation that she was interested in sales. Since we've had that conversation, I've made sure to include her in several sales calls so that she can listen in and take notes.
4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate. The mid-way evaluation is a crucial part of the internship. At this point, you can sit down with your team for 30 minutes and make a list of things the interns are excelling at and a list of things they can improve upon. Just having this brainstorm session with your staff will make them more attentive to the internship program as a whole. Once you've created your lists, have a group meeting with your interns. Explain to them the purpose of the evaluation - to give them a better understanding of what they are doing well and what they can improve upon. The idea is for them to acknowledge these problem areas now rather than at their first job post-college.
5. Stay In Touch. I always tell students to stay in touch with their professional contacts - of course. However, we all under estimate the value these students will play in our professional lives. In a few years, these interns are going to have jobs at your company and at companies similar to yours. Some of them will work with you, some will work for you, and you might find yourself working for one of them someday. It's just as important for you to keep the relationship as it is for them to stay in touch. I've had several interns graduate, land jobs, and call me with business proposals or pitch me ideas. If these students are interning with you - its a sign they have potential - the potential to be very successful. Make sure you stay in touch.