We’ve spent the past week here on the blog talking about internships, both from the viewpoint of the intern and, now, from the viewpoint of the internship supervisor. I think it’s almost a universally accepted fact that interns are a valuable addition to most any business. But, like many “gifts,” interns are what you make of them. I don’t mean that in a “work your intern to death” type of way, but more of a “prepare your business for an intern” way. Today, I’ll talk through how to prepare your business for an intern.
First, though, some context: I’ve worked with upwards of four interns directly under my supervision. Now, with these years of experience under my belt, I’ve picked up on a handful of tips. I’ve found that these tips make the internships that much more rewarding for both you, the supervisor, and the intern. Whether your intern is 19 or 90 (hey, senior internships are an up-and-coming thing), he/she will benefit from a little preparation on your end ahead of time.
How to Prepare Your Business for an Intern
Determine a Schedule Ahead of Time
Determining a schedule ahead of time makes for an easier transition once your intern comes aboard. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time to prepare, but you should sit down, think about what tasks you’d like your intern to accomplish and make a plan of attack for the first day (or couple of days). We’ll talk more about this soon.
For right now, though, just think about the tasks you’d like your intern to take on. Think about the order in which your intern should be learning to complete those tasks. Compare that schedule to the order in which the tasks need to be completed for your company. Make a list of goals. What, ideally, would you like to hand over to your intern? Think through both best case and worst case scenarios. You’ll learn a lot about your intern from working with him or her, much more than you’d ever learn in the interview format, so plan to make changes to the set of tasks and responsibilities based on his or her set of skills and interests.
Tackle the Paperwork Right Away
Aghhhh paperwork, that necessary evil. Hiring a new intern makes for paperwork – there’s no way to get around it. Even if your intern is only doing the internship for school credit, you’ll likely have paperwork to complete from the college or university involved. My advice? Tackle the paperwork right away. The first day of an internship is a lot of introductions and preparation anyway, so make it easier on yourself by setting aside time on that first day of the internship for all the paperwork.
Write Out the Plan of Attack
The first couple of days are going to be chaos. In fact, the first month or so will probably be a little chaotic, as your intern learns to navigate daily, weekly and monthly tasks and your company, to boot! I’ve found that writing out a clear schedule for the first handful of days accomplishes a number of tasks:
- keeps your intern occupied and gives him or her a clear sense of purpose.
- allows you to get your other work done.
- makes for greater organization of the tasks that must be done (vs. could be done).
Your interns want things to do. That’s why they’re at your company – to learn real-world experience. So, give it to them! You have that experience, and, just by being at your company day in and out, your intern will be picking up on things from you and learning applicable skills. Don’t hesitate to implement these three tactics to prepare your business for an intern and get the internship started off on the right foot.