Are you considering a summer intern? Do you already have one lined up?

A summer internship is a professional learning experience that offers practical work related to a student’s field of study or career interest. They are designed to help students understand what they want to do in the future.

If you are hoping that an intern becomes part of your permanent pipeline, it is to your advantage to help an intern think critically about why your company is an excellent fit for them.

As an employer, thinking creatively about the most effective and efficient ways to create a work environment where the right people (and potentially the best employees) will want to stay long-term is essential.

To set up your intern for success, both during their internship and as they progress in their career, you must provide them with a positive example of professionalism.

As their manager, your intern is looking to you for guidance on how to be a professional, succeed within your organization, and successfully navigate their workload.

If you are going to invest time in finding and managing an intern, here are three powerful ways to support them:

    1. Prepare careful project oversight
      • Have a specific project the intern can be responsible for with a clear and coherent set of tasks they oversee.
      • Give clear instructions for your expectations, the process for completing the task, and the deadline to help organize an intern’s day-to-day life, keeping them independent while creating autonomy in the role.
      • Designate someone with about 30 to 90 minutes a week to support the new talent, answer any questions, include additional training, and provide one-on-one mentorship.
    2. Present a peer group.
      • Give your intern access to peers who are other interns in a similar industry or employees around their age for support.
      • Think creatively to ensure your intern has someone other than you and your team with whom they can socialize and share ideas and frustrations throughout the summer internship. Make resources such as a list of online sources, webinars, and conferences accessible regarding the topic your intern is working on.
    3. Provide career guidance

Mentorship is incredibly valuable and critical to most interns’ success and satisfaction. It allows them to be open with and learn from someone more experienced and ensures time to interact beyond just handling assignments.

    • Connect an intern with someone two to four years older at the company and working full-time to schedule coffee chats throughout the summer to share thoughts on their learning and career path.
    • Consider arranging simple 30-minute coffee chats with half a dozen people in different departments around the company to create productive conversations and gather helpful information: What’s the most exciting part of your day? What aspects of your job do you wish you didn’t have? What training do you wish you had in addition to what you did study?

Providing an intern with quality support has three elements:

  1. Better work—positive reinforcement given to the right people pays off in hard work;
  2. Better experience—a likelihood that your intern will speak fondly of you as an employer and consider a full-time offer;
  3. Clarity about the future—why a company is such a great place to be a part of.

An internship should be a fun learning experience. To improve overall performance, consider hosting social events and outings for your intern.

By being thoughtful and deliberate in creating and implementing your internship program, you can create a rewarding experience for not only your intern but also your team and your organization.

Above all, treat your intern with respect, value their ideas and contributions, and make them feel like a welcome and integral part of your team.

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