Seven Key Tips for Managing Interns
Katrina Miller, SHRM-CP
05.16.22 | Operations Chat
By offering internships, firms are hoping to identify talent for potential full-time hires. Creating a mutually rewarding relationship between the firm and interns requires effective management practices. In this blog, we will explain why intern management is important and provide you with a list of tips to help interns grow into promising candidates for entry-level roles in the future.
Why is intern management important?
With current talent shortages and high turnover, it is more important than ever to prioritize proactive hiring, and interns are a great source for that. The firm will be able to assess in-demand skills without having to make a hiring commitment and can establish a pipeline of future hires that already fit the firm’s culture. A successful internship program can also be a great marketing tool to get the word out to the clients and to other potential employees.
So what exactly does effectively managing interns look like? To start with, it requires thoughtful and deliberate preparation, planning, and execution. Here are seven key tips for leaders new to people management on how to manage interns for the first time — and ensure that the internship is beneficial to both the firm and the intern.
1. Plan ahead
Before the internship program begins, make sure you have a plan in place. This way, both you and your interns will have a fruitful experience. Confirm dates of the internship, assign a buddy, assign to a team/client, decide what kind of projects they’ll be working on, what training they will need, etc. The preparation will take time, but it will also make it easier to navigate the program later.
Some interns have never had experience in corporate or professional settings. To make them more comfortable in the firm and in their roles, host an orientation to clarify the firm’s culture, mission, and vision, communication standards, how to use software, introduce other departments and provide other important info. Make them feel welcomed like they’re a part of the team from day one: invite them to lunch, introduce everyone around the office or via Zoom, and write a welcome letter.
3. Set goals
It is important to set clear expectations and goals from the beginning. This will also help to evaluate the performance of the intern at the end of the internship. Goals can be short-term and long-term; make sure to communicate both. Short-term: What is the expected outcome at the end of the internship (i.e., drafting financial statements, preparing tax returns, etc.)? Long-term: What career path is the intern looking for?
Besides technical training, you’ll also need to make sure the intern gets practical training from the managers and the team. Ensure that interns shadow different people on the team and include them in your team meetings and firm-wide events. Be available to answer questions and guide them through the task. Be a resource but also know what courses or webinars the intern can take to get the required information.
5. Have regular check-ins
Check-ins are essential for your intern to stay engaged during the course of the internship. It provides an opportunity for two-way communication and dialogue and enables the intern to express any concerns. During the check-in meetings, make sure they have enough work but don’t feel overwhelmed at the same time. Break down the tasks into a daily checklist and add more when they become more proficient. Allow them to ask questions.
6. Provide continuous feedback
During the check-ins mentioned above, communicate feedback to the intern. Feedback is instrumental to successful internship experiences. This will help them improve their work and allow them to contribute and learn more effectively. Ensure feedback is provided throughout the internship and not only at the end of the term. Interns should be able to understand where they stand and how they can improve if needed.
7. Make the internship a fun experience
An internship should be a fun learning experience. Include interns in social events, any firm wellness activities, and team outings, this way, they will feel more engaged and valued. It’s also a great way for them to get to know the team and meet other peers.
Creating the best internship experience starts with lots of preparation. But once you set up a system that works well, you’ll be able to reap all of the benefits that come with implementing an internship program.
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Katrina Miller, SHRM-CP, Human Resources Business Partner at Berdon LLP. She is a dynamic HR practitioner with extensive experience in recruiting, performance management, benefits, and payroll. She holds Master’s degree in Human Resources Management from New York Institute of Technology as well as advanced HR certification.