Transforming an Intern From Blah to Fantastic

In an ideal world, an intern is an indispensable asset to your business and the relationship itself is win-win. The intern is driven to succeed and provides obvious value while in turn, he receives work experience and a professional foot in the door.

As almost every business owner would attest though, the real world is a good deal less ideal and more complicated than the movies. Interns aren’t always Gordon Gekko Jr. when it comes to efficiency and daily motivation.

The jobs that interns perform every day often need more hands-on instruction than simply telling the intern where they can pick up donuts and retrieve your dry cleaning.

Creating a Fantastic Intern



Interns are usually eager for day one on the job because it gives them a chance to test drive a new career on for size. They can see if they like operating in that type of work environment and really put their skills to the test while networking and creating long-lasting mentor relationships.

Interns Need Roles

In the same way that recognition and awards for employees can increase workplace productivity and keep workers motivated on a daily basis, giving an intern a particular role to fill keeps things fresh and interesting.

Without the extra spice of telling an intern that his job is to “create the greatest marketing campaign the world has ever seen” or telling another intern that her task for the duration of the internship is to “engage 100% with customers,” a lot of interns can feel like your internship is merely a forgettable stepping stone to the job they really want.

Creating a role for every intern also forces you to think though how each of you are going to benefit from the relationship. You could even try letting your next intern pick his own role – just make sure the role’s ambitious enough and not along the lines of “part-time paper pusher.”

Goals and Benchmarks

Speaking of more ambition, make sure to draft a list of approximately a dozen challenging, yet doable, objectives that each intern can checklist off as s/he works through the internship.

Measurable, graduated objectives keep interns on track and gives them a goal to work towards…and maybe someone to impress enough to give them a job.

What are some examples to get you started? Creating a webinar to educate the community about a particular issue relevant to your industry or putting together a questionnaire that finds out what customers really want out of your business is the kind of scale that we’re talking about here.

Without goals, your intern is probably performing at a “blah” level rather than giving you all-star numbers.

Creating a set of measurable goals keeps you both on track and your intern feeling like s/he’s making actual progress. Actually, the feeling of making progress itself ignites a virtuous cycle of higher productivity, creativity and professional excellence.

Focus on Relevant Incentives

Many, maybe most, interns are hoping that their internship turns into a more solid employment opportunity.

Therefore, you might want to get interns more involved in meetings and give them the chance to make their own contributions at conferences and other networking events to make them feel more involved.

Since interns, by and large, tend to be younger and more interested in social media, letting an intern take the helm on a social media outreach program can create noticeably more exposure for your business and a sense of purposeful confidence in your intern.

You’re simultaneously getting the most out of your intern, benefiting your business in tangible ways and perhaps, even training your next employee!

Find resources for creating your internship program at

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Bridge is a program that focuses on connecting employers and students in Rhode Island. The goal of Bridge is to match Rhode Island employers with talented students looking to gain valuable professional experience. Applying knowledge and skills acquired in college to a professional setting is a vital component of a student’s college education. Students who gain relevant internship experience are better prepared for full-time employment after graduation. By hiring interns, employers gain qualified, career-driven young professionals as employees. Student bring with them exposure to cutting edge practices and technology, new insights and philosophies, flexibility and a thirst for knowledge. bRIdge has a particular focus on connecting students and employers from specialized fields such as Business, Science, IT, Technology, Health, Design, Engineering and Manufacturing. The bRIdge website allows employers to post paid or unpaid internships online and directly reach out to a vast and talented pool of students. College students and recent graduates can sign up and start looking for an appropriate professional learning opportunity in minutes. bRIdge is a program of the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) and RISLA’s College Planning Center of Rhode Island. RISLA has joined up with Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Rhode Island (AICURI), the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education (RIBGHE) and the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce to bring together academia, business and community. If you have any questions about this program or if you need any assistance, please feel free to contact us.

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