Taking on interns is a big endeavor. You must recruit, train and maintain good work flow for the duration of the program. It may seem a little difficult to find a healthy balance between overworking your intern and letting them goof off entirely. The most important aspect of the internship is learning so it is imperative to have a strong program in place before any intern ever sets foot into your company. Here are some ways that you can keep your interns engaged and busy during their internship.
Routine Performance Reviews
Keeping an eye on your intern’s progress is a great way to keep them motivated and working. When you set up your internship program, be sure to include performance reviews. Set goals and dates to which they are to be completed. Have a mentor in place for your intern to have someone to turn to for help. Reporting directly to someone in a higher position for help may seem daunting to an intern but having a mentor as a guide can help the intern ace the reviews. Although a review may sound like a bad thing to a full-time employee, it is really in place to keep your interns on task and learning.
Be Specific in the Job Description
A clearly defined job description is indispensable when it comes to any position; especially internships. Students with little to no experience on the job will need a lot of direction to complete tasks and stay productive. Determining daily tasks on a whim is a recipe for disaster. The work may not fit the skill set of the intern, leaving them to feel incapable and confused. You will need to put thought into the exact projects that your interns will be assigned. Dispersing work that is too difficult or too easy will cause your interns to lose interest very quickly. A detailed job description will help you to find the right candidates that will have a clear understanding of what will be required of them.
A detailed outline of work to be performed for the duration of the internship should be devised from the start. A good rule of thumb is to have three tiers of work; the initial project, final project, and filler work. The initial project can be assigned at the end of orientation. Assign a mentor to aid the interns during this time so they can learn the ropes and get comfortable with the organization. The final project will be something to build up to for the end of internship. The project should have a decent level of difficulty to challenge the intern. Lastly, filler work should be assigned to keep the intern busy in between working on projects, but make sure it is related to the work at hand.
Be Sure the Time is Right
Ask yourself if the time is right to hire interns before you begin the process. Is there enough workflow specifically designed for interns? Does the organization have a big event or project that interns can work on to feel like a valued part of the team? If there is no need for interns at that time, there will be big holes in the productivity of your interns.
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