Adding a new hire to your company brings incredible opportunity as well as a responsibility for any manager. Interns, in particular, infuse a vibrancy and diversity to the workplace bringing with them a fresh face and a fresh perspective. If managed correctly, they can be a massive asset to both you and your company (and, the experience can be incredibly rewarding for both parties.)
As the head of marketing internships at Power Digital, I’ve found great joy helping collegiate students take the first steps in their career and watching them grow along the way. In doing so, I’ve picked up a handful of employee management tips that have made the experience a seamless one.
Although a class of new interns can be very powerful tools to support your staff, manage excess workflow, and contribute to the company’s future, their value can also be diminished if they aren’t properly trained or equipped with the tools necessary for success.
The best part about investing your time into creating a strong internship curriculum is the potential for them to transition into a full-time hire should the opportunity arise. After all, what could be better than hiring someone that is already trained, familiar with the team, and whom you’re confident in their abilities?
Keep reading for helpful tips on how to set yourself up for success throughout the course of your mentees internship.
Tips for Managing Interns
#1 Plan ahead
The first task when onboarding a new intern is to prepare for their arrival. Make sure their email address and all necessary accounts are ready to go before their first day. Nothing looks worse than a disorganized internship manager. Show them that you are excited and prepared for them to start.
I also recommend creating an onboarding deck to run through together when they arrive to the office. This deck should include an introduction to the company, information about their role, goals for the semester, and any other pertinent information. As you review, be sure to ask them if they have any questions or concerns so you can address them immediately.
Last but not least, make sure you’ve given thought to the first batch of projects for them to begin. Start with simple tasks to ramp up before you begin training for more complex projects.
#2 Make them feel welcome
When they arrive, be sure to greet them and take them on a tour of the office. As you do, introduce them to key players within your team and let them know who they can lean on or go to with questions. Be sure to prepare your team for the new employee or intern. Encourage them to get to know their new team member even if they will not be working directly with them. While not required, it’s a nice touch to pick up a welcome card and have your team sign it – simple acts of gratitude make the world of difference in all aspects of life!
Managers often make the mistake of sending an intern to their desk without instruction to begin focusing on their own tasks. Avoid this! Although training, forecasting, and inviting them to meetings requires more time and effort on your end, your intern will have a much more valuable experience (and they will be able to better assist you!)
#3 Set clear goals and expectations
“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” – Bill Copeland
I can’t stress how important it is to make sure you communicate benchmarks for success and how performance will be measured. Power Digital works with our interns each semester to help them identify S.M.A.R.T goals.
- S- specific
- M- measurable
- A- achievable
- R- relevant
- T- timely
Hitting these goals helps them to realize the milestones they are accomplishing and motivates them to continue learning.
Note: Hiring a new employee or intern and merely throwing them mindless or thankless tasks will not harvest beneficial results. Instead, start with something short-term that allows you to gauge their strengths and weaknesses. If that goes well, give them a project that is meaningful and tangibly beneficial to the company or clients. If they struggle with the project or make a mistake, thank them for their help and review it with them again.
#4 Build a relationship
I STRONGLY recommend getting to know your intern(s) as individuals outside of their identity in the office. Discover their hopes and goals and see if there are ways you can help them achieve them. By investing time and effort and demonstrating that you care about their personal goals, they will feel more connected to you and the organization.
Eating lunch together or taking them to coffee is a great way to begin building a relationship. Though simple, it provides the opportunity to show genuine interest in who they are and to ask questions to learn more about them. Empowering and supporting your interns will make them feel excited and willing to take on new tasks. Plus, it’s fun for you to connect over common interests!
#5 Explain why their tasks are valuable
This is extremely important, even for small and mindless tasks. If your intern does not understand the purpose of the project they are working on, they are far more likely to lose motivation or get sloppy with their work. By explaining the purpose, you invest an inherent value in the task at hand; thus, encouraging your mentee to take pride in the final product.
Interns are hungry to absorb as much information as they can. Whenever possible, allow them to see the bigger picture of your company or of the overall client strategy (explaining how their task contributes.) Invite them to sit in and listen to meetings, calls, and pitches. Then, try to share key takeaways and answer any questions they have. The more they know and are involved, the better they can help contribute to success.
#6 Give feedback
Don’t be afraid to speak up if you find yourself correcting your new team members work or prefer things to be a certain way. This will not only save you time but also will help them grow professionally and advance in their career. Your job as a manager is to help give them the tools and feedback they need to succeed (just make sure it’s constructive, and you’re also letting them know what they did well.)
After all, the goal is for your intern is to end the internship with a prospective job offer at your company, or the skill set necessary to land a job in their desired industry.
#7 Hold periodic check-in meetings
Try to meet on a regular basis and use this time to ask them how they think things are going, what they like working on, how their bandwidth is, and if they have any challenges or pain points. Don’t wait until something goes wrong to schedule a one on one meeting. Instead, be proactive and provide solutions before problems arise.
Understand that your interns are likely also balancing school and a part time job in addition to an internship. The time they spend in the office should be educational and enjoyable, not an added stress.
#8 Conduct an exit interview
When the semester is coming to a close, don’t forget to conduct a brief exit interview if there is not a current opportunity for them to stay. Use this interview as a fact-finding mission. This meeting should help you glean insight as to what they valued the most as well as provide ways to improve the internship curriculum or program for future recruits. Ask for their suggestions and let them know that you are always available for professional guidance wherever their career may take them!
I hope these tips were helpful and wish you the best of luck in a truly rewarding experience!