How to Help Your Interns Advance
With spring just around the corner and summer not too far away, you might be considering offering a summer internship to one or more students. Of course, the quality of your internship program contributes significantly to your employer brand — especially when it comes to how new talent perceives your organization. That’s why it’s advisable to give some thought to how you can help your interns advance. The following tips can help:
- Understand their learning objectives. At the beginning of their internship, discuss what knowledge and skills they want to acquire during the next few months. Once that’s clear, create a plan that will enable them to work step by step towards their goals.
- Explain the value of their contributions. As Irving Fain points out in his Inc. article “Managing Your Interns: 6 Tips,” it’s important that your interns understand how their work contributes to the organization’s success. For example, if they’re tasked with updating your database, inform them how that task relates to the success of a project — and ultimately, the company’s bottom line.
- Check in regularly to review their progression. Every one or two weeks, sit down with your interns to discuss their work. This gives them the opportunity to ask questions or bring up any challenges they’ve run into while at the same time keeping you up to date on how they’re advancing.
- Let them shadow other team members. It can be a significant learning experience for your interns to observe what each person does and how they work together to achieve your team’s objectives.
- Provide networking opportunities. The contacts your interns meet during their time with your organization can be critical when they enter the labour market. When the opportunity arises, introduce your interns to people from other business units — and even your clients. In addition, if your team participates in any after-work social events, invite your interns, as well.
- Inform them about career opportunities with your organization. If the interns perform well, it’s helpful to give them an overview of what kinds of roles will be opening up with your company and what they would need in order to qualify for them.
- Offer to be a reference. It’s often challenging for entry-level candidates to find sufficient references. If you’re pleased with your interns’ performance and feel comfortable speaking about their skills, it can be a huge help for them if you agree to be a reference.
It’s important to understand that your interns will soon be graduates looking for employment. And in today’s tight labour market, it’s a plus to be able to tap into a pool of talent who are familiar with your organization and whose abilities you already know.