5 Ways to Make Internships Mutually Beneficial

Mary Best
May 30, 2018

Are you planning on hiring interns for the summer? Sure, they need an internship for school and you can’t beat the price (free or almost free), but what are some things that can ensure an internship is a valuable experience both for the interns and for your organization? Here are some of our top tips to make internships mutually beneficial.

1. Create an official intern program

Your interns are likely paid poorly (if they’re even paid at all). The last thing they need is for you to put them in the kids’ table in the corner of the bullpen office. Give interns a desk and office chair. Create a theme for the summer, like “Camp (Your Company).” Incorporate them into your team. Give them a name badge, official staff shirt, or even some unique SWAG that will make them feel great about being part of the team. Provide your interns a proper orientation at the beginning of the summer (or even a retreat) and an official exiting celebration at the end.

2. Assign them a mentor

You’ve got these young, impressionable minds at your disposal for the summer--why not build into them? Choose a different leader in your organization to serve as each intern’s official summer mentor. Whether it’s a book discussion, shadowing program or a weekly lunch out, a mentor can have a huge, positive impact on your intern’s future.

3. Give them an important project to lead

Interns add value and seek to create impact. Create a space/project and experience for your interns to thrive.  If you allow your interns to run with a project, you’ll quickly realize they’re have a different or fresh approach to your product or process.

Charge them with projects such as developing a community outreach strategy, devising or revising your business’ social media strategy or even let them run with a client feedback survey that lets your clients provide real feedback on how you can improve your services. Your interns can add value to your organization and look back on work they can be proud of.

4. Invite them to all your meetings

The goal isn’t to bore them to death in the first week. Inviting interns to all your meetings not only lets see behind the curtain to “see how the sausage is made,” but you can allow their outside perspectives to challenge tired methods. Set an expectation at the beginning of the summer for your interns to ask tons of questions: Why do you do it that way? What’s the reason behind this initiative? Is this something we can save money on by outsourcing? As outsiders, your interns can ask some hard (but helpful) questions.

5. Have fun!

You are such a grown up, with your car payment and five gray hairs (they’re there...just look a little bit closer). Having a group of 20-year-olds infiltrate your work world for a few months can really inject a spirit of energy and gusto into your 9 to 5 mundanity--embrace it!

We’re not saying you need to try to pretend to understand the latest Snapchat filters or make bad attempts at youngster slang, but you can allow your interns to help you lighten up. Have them introduce you to cool new hipster lunch haunts. Set up a ping pong net on your conference room table for breaks. Stock the office with Nerf guns. Let their youthful glows soak into every corner of your office.

This summer can be a time when your interns contribute to your organization. In turn, you can pour into them with your business acumen. At the end of the summer, you’ll write them a glowing review and you’ll wonder how you ever functioned without them.

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