Many businesses have taken advantage of internship programs with great success. Interns have an influx of new ideas and a fresh, energetic attitude. However, many companies don’t realize that while there are many aspects of an internship, there is just one ultimate goal for both parties: learning.
What to Expect From College Internship Programs – It’s Not All Busy Work
When you hire a full-time or part-time employee for pay, you can essentially ask them to do anything – provided it doesn’t go against the local laws in your area. However, the same is not true of an internship. Whether it’s paid or not, whether it counts as school credit or not, the purpose is not to get a free or cheap coffee runner, or to replace a current employee with one who doesn’t require pay. The ultimate and end goal is educating the intern – and getting a few benefits yourself as well!
Busy Work Isn’t Exempt – How Much is Too Much
That isn’t to say that you can’t use your intern for busy work like answering phones, filing, grabbing lunch, or other duties. After all, that’s part of the work experience too! A good rule of thumb is that no more than 20% of their time should be spent at these tasks, and that is a definite if they are unpaid. That could mean having them answer phones for several hours at a time, once a week, or breaking up those busy tasks ten or fifteen minutes at a time. However it works for you is fine, so long as you keep it under 20%.
What to Expect From College Internship Programs
Now you know what not to do, but how do you know what you should do? The first step is to clearly communicate to potential interns exactly what you’ll expect from them. Be open and honest and listen to their feedback, too. It’d be great to find an intern who could clearly articulate to you exactly what skills they’d hope to learn and how they’d learn best, but this may not be the case – especially when you’re dealing with someone who may or may not have had a professional position before.
Evaluations Benefit Everyone
One of the best ways to ensure your intern is getting the learning experience they need, and that they’re getting as much out of it as possible, is to have an evaluation in place. This could be done at the end of a month, or at the end of their internship. No matter how you structure it, it has several advantages. First, it gives the intern great experience at receiving constructive criticism. Evaluations are a part of any career, and having experience in them is a huge asset to a future employee.
Second, it gives the intern a great opportunity to learn more about their strengths and weaknesses. While many of us like to think we know what we excel at, and what we could use help with, it often takes an unbiased third party to really evaluate our pros and cons and to deliver that information in a way that’s useful to us. That’s exactly what an intern evaluation can do. To get the most out of the experience, be sure to set clear objectives at the beginning of an internship programs. The intern will have the chance to focus on the objectives that he or she will be evaluated on, and your company will have a clear focus for the evaluation.