From a student’s perspective, internships are a amazing way of building an impressive resume, earning course credit and gleaning work experience that can translate into a solid foundation for a full-time career.
On the other hand, internships are also a huge boon for employers since they provide businesses with up-and-coming professionals who have been vetted, mentored and educated.
There’s simply no better way to get what you’re looking for in a new employee than doing most of the training yourself through an internship. What about when you want supercharged results, though? How can you efficiently revolutionize your internship program to eventually develop superstar full-time employees?
Revolutionizing Your Internship Program
Getting up close and personal with interns tells you a lot about what skills they’re bringing to the table, and it also clues you into their ability to handle stress, work together on teams and maintain great time management throughout.
Really Test Your Interns
You ultimately want indications that interns are up to snuff and can make tangible contributions to your organization. The best way to do that is to give interns real tasks that put their capabilities, experiences and classroom knowledge to the test in a way that actually helps your company.
Your internship program should still have structure and adequate supervision, but try giving interns a little more rope by allowing them to develop some of their own projects.
In the workplace, your employees are often walking a tightrope between carrying out assigned tasks and autonomously pursuing their own projects. Extend that same freedom – with limits – to your interns by allowing them the opportunity to carry out projects that you would assign actual employees, on the one hand, and also allowing interns the space to carry out their own projects that still support your company.
Take some cues from Google who gives its employees “20% free time” to pursue their own projects.
Listen to Interns at Every Step
Google allows its employees to more autonomously develop their own projects in order to infuse a new perspective into the organization. Some people call this bringing a change culture to a company.
By whichever name, adding a new perspective to your company is rarely a bad thing, and a lot of times it can be just the shot in the arm that businesses looking for more innovation desperately need to move forward.
So, while you’re giving your own feedback to interns and steering them in the direction that you feel will provide the most value to your company, take the time to listen to interns. Why should you do this?
Because interns often have an entirely new way of looking at an old problem. It was actually Einstein who said that you shouldn’t keep always applying the same solutions to problems and expect a revolutionary outcome: You need a paradigm shift to realize a truly revolutionary answer.
Interns can often provide that. Ask interns what they feel they’re bringing to your business during the initial interview, then during the exit interview ask interns what ideas they have for improving your business. The answers to these questions can often be illuminating.
Birds of a Feather Flourish Together
We often perform our best when paired with someone with a similar background, interests and educational concentrations.
The same goes for your interns: from Day 1 pair each intern, where possible, with a mentor who understands where they’re coming from and can offer timely guidance and insider tips for that intern to really soar at your company. An easy-peasy step to take towards excellence!