In workplaces around the country, summer is synonymous with summer internships. If your company plans to offer them, now is the time to begin planning -- and, perhaps, to fundamentally change how you think about your interns to begin with.
"Internships aren't just about grunt work anymore," author Matt D'Angelo writes in an article for Business News Daily. "With the right program, you can develop young talent and lay a foundation for recruiting brilliant young minds to work for your company."
Which begs the question: What does the "right" program look like?
For starters, D'Angelo says, it includes mentors. "Providing a mentor means giving interns an avenue for personalized feedback on matters that extend beyond their work," he explains. "You want to provide a dynamic feedback experience for the intern, so assigning them mentors from upper-level management may not be the best idea, since they'll likely already be receiving feedback from their direct supervisor. Instead, provide your interns with junior-level employees to create a relaxed relationship that promotes professional growth and development. After all, if this is an intern's first corporate experience, they may have questions that they don't feel comfortable asking their manager."
Also important, D'Angelo says, is assigning interns to work on projects that they can complete during their internship. "Often, interns will work on two or three major projects, depending on the length of their internship," he continues. "The key is tracking their progress and making sure there's a defined beginning, middle and end to their work."
Echoes Liz Wessel, co-founder and CEO of WayUp, whom D'Angelo interviewed, "It's really nice for an intern to feel like they've come in, they've started something and they've completed that, as opposed to them feeling like they've … been working on something and they never get to see it through to the end."
Finally, remember that the best internships are paid internships. "Paying your interns will allow you to access talented candidates who may otherwise have never applied," D'Angelo concludes. "Plus, it may be illegal not to pay them minimum wage. Federal labor laws, as well as some state's laws, may require it."
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