There are plenty of articles out there with advice and tips for college kids looking to get internships and how to add value to the organizations they are interning for, including some of our own. This is not another one of those articles. In addition, there are plenty of articles out there that point out the organizational benefits to hiring an intern or having an internship program at your organization. This is also not one of those of articles.
It’s time the business world started thinking less about what interns can offer a company and more about what a company can offer their interns. You have the opportunity as an employer to help prep the next generation of professionals. What are you doing to help them be the best professionals they can be?
If your interns are just getting coffee and doing data entry, then you should consider that maybe your organization is not effectively leveraging their skills and talents and consequently, not enticing those interns to think about a career at your organization.
Internships should be more to the intern than just a way to get some experience under their belt so they qualify for some entry level position that requires 3+ years of experience. Internships should provide professional training and teach the next generation the basics such as communication skills, business writing, how to submit an expense report, and that even though an organization has a business casual dress code, when you have a client meeting, throw on a blazer!
You should be creating value for these interns so they can look back positively on their experience at your organization.
Here are the ways you can create value for your interns:
- Let them sit in on other department meetings and client meetings. It is truly amazing what someone can learn through observation.
- Schedule them to meet with other employees throughout the organization. Your sales intern could learn a whole lot by spending time with a product engineer or finance analyst.
- Train them. Yes, it’s that simple. Send them to a few soft skills training courses.
- Host an intern networking event. If your organization is big enough, you can make this an intercompany event. If not, expand it with other businesses with interns in your area. This will help with their networking abilities.
- Pay them. Surprising, right?
- Establish a mentorship program within your organization.
- Let them lead a meeting or two. For many people, the first time leading a meeting was probably a disaster due to a late start, an unorganized agenda, a derailing brainstorming session, or just plain nerves. Give them the opportunity to build their confidence.
All of these ways you can create value for your employees will not only help you build the next generation of professionals but it will help your employer brand. If word gets out that your internships are valuable for the interns instead of just the organization, you may have yourself a pool of top talent intern applicants next year. And in turn, a pool of top talent to select from when hiring.