Tips for Getting the Best Use Out of Interns

By Brooke Tajer on
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internsIf you've decided to use interns this summer, you'll want to make the most of your shared experience. Otherwise, you'll be wasting time and energy on talent who won't want to work for your company when the internship ends.

Here are a few ways to invest in your interns: 

Remember you're developing future employees: Working with interns should be a big opportunity for future employees to get to know your company – and you to know them. Remembering this shared objective should drive every aspect of your working relationship. You'll want to give them assignments that give you a good idea of their skills and ability to learn your business. Consider it early training they might need to one day walk into a full-time position with your company.

Be clear on the help you need: How can you best put them to work? Brainstorm with your associates, considering short- and long-term assignments. Remember that some interns may want to stay on as "virtual assistants" later, continuing with projects they started this summer. Assigning them mainly "grunt work" may help you with some of the heavy lifting, but make it harder to do valuable recruiting later.

Regard interns as an important part of your team: No matter what sort of tasks your interns end up focusing on, menial or managerial, you'll want them to feel essential to the operation of your team. This means involving them in "team bonding activities" or networking events, even training. Invite them to sit in on your regular team meetings whenever appropriate. 

The more you treat our interns the way you do your full-time employees the more likely you will find good long-term fits for your business. Make them feel connected, ask for their ideas and input, brainstorm together.

Gain market insights from their perspectives: If your business in any way deals with the needs of the younger generations (and what business these days doesn't in some way?) your summer interns could be a valuable asset from a marketing standpoint. How they react to your product(s), how they see your chance of success with their peers, the difficulties they might have using what you have to offer. Information of this sort would not only be expensive to work up externally, but could greatly affect your success in the marketplace.

Look at your interns and their peers as a key demographic group for your future success. Ask them pointed questions and get their feedback on projects that might interest their generation. 

Make time for check-ins and feedback: Set regular check-ins with your interns, weekly. This creates more work for you, certainly, but if you look at it more as an investment, you could be contributing to the future career of someone who's helping you succeed ­– and might one day join your group.