At work, we are all busy and welcoming an intern can seem like just another thing to add to the ever-expanding “to do” list. After five different internships over two years, I understand firsthand that interns can be seen as another project to manage, and it can take more time explaining a task to them than completing it on your own. However, hiring an intern is not only valuable for your intern’s work experience, but he or she can also benefit your organization.
Let’s face it – being a supervisor is difficult. In my experience, my supervisors have shaped my internship experiences for better or for worse. From an intern’s perspective, here is a list of what has impacted my experiences on the job:
Set up weekly check-ins or be readily available: Set aside 15-30 minutes in a day to provide a place for interns to ask questions. This also allows time for managers to see if the intern is on task.
Balance responsibilities: I understand mail needs to be sent and coffee is essential to completing our work some days. However, interns want to have a chance to prove themselves in the workplace. We want to be part of the inner workings of the office. Consider projects where we can add value or work up a first draft to present to the team in addition to copies and coffee.
Listen. Follow through: Interns generally know what they want out of their internship and know their strengths. Try to give them at least one or two projects they enjoy and are good at.
Invite interns to meetings: I’ve been told that staff members think meetings are boring. Not me. As an intern, I want to soak up as much information as possible. Attending meetings is the perfect place for this to happen. If we know what the team is trying to accomplish, we can learn how to contribute to those goals. Also, nothing is more awkward and isolating than when everyone in your department is having a meeting down the hall that you weren’t invited to.
Encourage us: Ask us questions and encourage us to ask you questions. Urge interns to contribute as much as possible and you will see them stepping up more. Help them serve your business better by taking the time to answer their questions, give them context and challenge their ideas. In return, they can give you new perspectives and approaches to your work.
So far, at Cultivation Center, I feel valued and excited about the work I am completing. I am motivated to work hard. As an intern, breaking out of the traditional internship role and into a valued team member is ideal for me as well as for Cultivation Center. I have learned that with fresh ideas and new perspectives, we can all grow our businesses.