You’ve been working at your company for a couple years and are making your way up the ladder when your boss calls you into her office. She explains that she’s noticed how successful you’ve been in training new recruits and wants to offer you more management experience. For the next 12 weeks you’ll be managing a team of five interns.
Although you feel this is an amazing next step for your career, managing interns can feel like a daunting task when you’re relatively new to the workforce yourself. We’ve all heard about the dreaded internships where days are spent fetching coffee and making copies instead of actually learning about your industry of choice and making valuable contributions.
Here are some tips to help give your interns a great internship experience and help you steer clear of the “bad internship supervisor” title.
Treat interns like real people
Sit down with your intern to learn more about them. Find out what their goals are, why they are interested in this industry. Why did they want to work with your company? And what are they hoping to get out of this experience? By learning about their hopes, goals, and dreams, it’s much easier for you, as their supervisor, to tailor their experience to their strengths.
Give meaningful tasks and set up goals for interns to work toward
Take a few minutes at the end of each week to assess the work done and then write up a set of tasks for your intern to accomplish in the next week. Giving interns consistent assignments helps them feel engaged and supported.
You could even go a step further and give your interns their own project to work on throughout their internship. This gives them real world experience and something to include on their resume when interviewing for jobs.
Encourage interns to feel and act as part of the company
When speaking with students about their internships, one of the complaints most often heard is that they don’t feel like part of the team. Internships aren’t only about learning the business or industry, but they are also about learning how to work with a team in that business’s atmosphere.
If possible, treat interns as employees as much as you can. Invite them to meetings to hear the background or intimate details of a project. Ask for their opinion or input on a particular problem. Their perspective might be one that your company hasn’t thought of.
Be a mentor
While internship managers are certainly not their teachers or professors, by recruiting interns regularly, your company is accepting the responsibility of helping these students start their careers.
Being a mentor, as an intern manager, does not have to mean continued communication after the internship is over. By taking these steps during the internship, you will help to support your interns’ goal of gaining real world experience and landing that first job.