Hiring a summer intern can be mutually beneficial for everyone involved. You get to provide someone with valuable workplace experience, and they help you with all those little tasks that take up valuable time. But if you only have your intern make the office cups of coffee and shred documents, you’re probably wasting their potential. Instead, use the following advice to get the most out of your summer intern and make their time (and yours) worth it.
Just because your intern isn’t a permanent employee doesn’t mean they don’t have skills. If they’re in college, they can benefit your company immeasurably because they have an up-to-date education. They’ll also bring a fresh perspective to your company, as they’re not familiar with the way you’ve always done things.
Determine what your intern can do right off the bat so you can get the most out of their time. Maybe they’re a wizard with Photoshop or they’ve got a killer understanding of social media strategies—whatever your intern’s strengths are, give them opportunities to use their skills for your business’s benefit.
Your intern should feel comfortable asking you questions. Have an open-door policy that gives them the freedom to ask you for advice and voice their thoughts about how their internship is with you. If they’re pleased, upset, or concerned, they should feel comfortable enough to tell you.
Also, try to create a friendly, exciting environment for them to work in, as they’ll be more likely to shine in a pleasant, stimulating workplace. Remember that when you hire an intern, you’re assuming the role of mentor, so try to live up to that position and give them an experience they can learn from and value for the rest of their career.
Most interns are eager to please, but it can be difficult to stay motivated when they’re only asked to do mindless jobs that have no real purpose. Young people crave meaning in their jobs far more than past generations did, and they’re less willing to stick with a job purely for money or career advancement. Don’t just invent tasks for your intern to do—really find meaningful ways they can contribute to your company, and be willing to teach them at the start so they can be more useful for the remainder of their time with you.
The more informed your intern is about how your company works, the more they’ll be able to contribute. Don’t keep them in the dark about various aspects of your business just because they’re only a temporary hire. Get them up to speed on things just like you would a regular employee, as this will help them feel like a legitimate part of the workplace, even if it’s only for the summer. Help your intern feel like a real part of your team to boost their drive to work hard and, ultimately, equip them for better performance.
Paying an intern might seem like a counter-intuitive business move when so many students are willing to work for free, but paid internships attract three times the number of applicants, and you don’t have to pay much more than minimum wage. The more people who apply for your company’s internships, the more high-quality potential interns you’ll have to choose from, increasing the likelihood of finding the perfect fit. You also lessen the risk of internship lawsuits when you pay your interns, and it’s not a bad PR move either.
Look at your overall budget to see how much you can afford to pay your intern, and talk with your intern to ensure they feel like they’re being fairly compensated for the experience-building work they’ll be doing.
Interns can be a valuable addition to a company and are a great way to scout for future employees with minimal risk. By putting time and care into your internship program and the interns you hire, you’ll be better equipped to determine if they’re a good fit for your company long term. Treating them well can also increase the chances of them accepting a job offer should you wish to extend one at the end of the program.