Senior Account Executive
In a long distance online dating, I offered four tips to create a great internship program based on the experience I’ve had supervising interns for many years. Here are four more tips:
1.Make your intern feel welcome
When I was in college, I spent a semester away from my school in Indiana to intern in Philadelphia (which might as well have been the moon for a girl originally from Nebraska). The first day of my internship, I showed up to work on time and dressed in my best work duds. But the office seemed to have forgotten that I was starting that day. There was nowhere for me to sit. No one was there to show me around. After a couple of hours of uncomfortably trying to look busy, someone told me to meet with the marketing director, who proceeded to share with me that she’d missed the last two days of work because she was hungover. Um…cue the crickets.
It actually ended up being a great internship, and I loved every minute of it. But that first day was bumpy, to say the least.
Get your intern off on the right foot: have a designated workspace, set up an email account, have a computer and phone ready to go on their first day and schedule time to spend with them when they start to help them feel comfortable, welcome and appreciated.
Unlike poor NBA star Blake Griffin, who did this internship with FunnyorDie.com.
2. Pay your intern. If you can’t pay them, investigate school credit.
If it’s even a remote possibility, pay your intern. You’ll provide them with much-needed extra money, and attract a larger pool of applicants. In today’s world of skyrocketing education costs and school loans that follow kids into their 40s, more and more need to devote non-study time to paid work.
If you can’t pay them, ask the local university what you can do to help your intern earn course credit for the time he or she is spending with you.
3. Check in with your intern frequently.
Unless the topic is sensitive or confidential, invite your intern to sit in on every meeting. Make sure he or she is invited to staff meetings, and set aside 15 – 30 minutes every week to sit down with your intern to ask how things are going, what they’re working on and how they think the internship is going. Provide them with feedback on what they’re doing well and if there’s something they can do better.
Expect a successful internship program to require an investment of time on your end. You’ll find the perfect intern, get him or her trained, and then it will be time for them to return to school and you’ll be right back where you started. But if you don’t invest the time to guide, train and mentor, you won’t have a contributing member of the team, and your intern will be miserably bored.
4. Set expectations up front.
Think about writing a little handbook for your internship program. If you’re setting up a program where you may have a new intern starting every four months all year long, you’ll be glad you invested the time into writing a guide they can each turn to. Include in it instructions on how to use various office equipment and software; a directory of team members; basics like the company address and phone number.
Make sure your intern knows when he or she is expected to come in and go home, how long their breaks last, what the dress code is, where to park, and who to call if they can’t make it to work.
Best wishes on creating a strong internship program!