7 Ways to Invest in Your Intern

Does your office have a few new faces running around the halls this summer? We hope so! Summertime is the most popular time for students to participate in internship programs. Internship programs, if run correctly, can be a GREAT partnership for both the student and the employer. The student gains experience and insight to the working world while the employer gains a new perspective and hopefully a talented new hire in the future. Making it a positive experience for the intern will pay off in the long run! Whether your company has run an internship program for years or you are in the midst of your first try, we put together a list of suggestions to help make this summer the best for your intern!

1. Host an orientation

Welcome your intern with some fanfare (and maybe some breakfast too)! As dull as sitting through an orientation might sound, it is best to outline the summer schedule and answer any questions an intern might have right away. This will make them feel more at home and ease any tensions they may have about the summer. Go over any HR procedures or policies and take care of any paperwork. Teach them about the history of the company and the main objectives of the business. Get your intern excited about the impact he or she could make this summer. Tour the building and set-up any IT needs so they are completely prepared for any work that needs to be accomplished!

2. Assign meaningful work

Speaking of work, give your intern actual projects to complete – both short term and long term. Getting coffee and lunch orders is probably not what you want them reporting back to their career services departments. Take advantage of the knowledge they bring to the table and challenge them to collaborate with other members of your team or perhaps a group project with other interns. Students are used to juggling several different classes at once so why not give them multiple projects to juggle as well.

3. Show additional experiences

Just because an intern is assigned to one department, doesn’t mean learning is restricted to just that subject matter. Have your intern sit down with your colleagues from other departments to learn about their day to day actions. Bring in speakers or activities to supplement their project work. Think about what a college student would need to know as they enter the workforce: finance 101, building a LinkedIn profile, interviewing skills or maybe just for fun – cooking skills! The sky is the limit.

4. Meet senior leadership

If possible, expose your intern to Senior Leadership at your company. Host a meet and greet session over lunch or a coffee break in the afternoon where your intern can have the opportunity to introduce themselves to the leaders of the company in a relaxed setting. This gives the student an opportunity to ask questions to the senior leaders and gives senior leaders an opportunity to reminisce about their days as a student.

5. Gather mentor groups

Pair your intern up with someone other than their supervisor to check in with him or her throughout the program. Have them offer career advice or simply take them for lunch once a week to check in with them. Relationship building is an important part of the business world and you have to start somewhere.

6. Prepare an exit survey

Sit down with your intern before he or she leaves for the summer to see what you both could do differently. Use the time to evaluate the value of the projects completed and exchange advice for the future. Criticism in a learning setting does not have to be a negative thing – show your intern ways to improve but also point out times when they rocked it out throughout the program.

7. Send them back with swag

Who doesn’t love swag?! Notepads, t-shirts, mugs and water bottles – you can’t go wrong with free stuff. Have your student bring back to campus as much as possible to remind them of their summer. This is also great for employer branding and helps to spread your name across campuses nationwide. The more your intern speaks about his or her positive experience to friends, the more applicants you may have in years to come. Some of the best hires are referrals – at any level!