The Internship Dilemma…and How to Solve It! [Employers]

You obviously love the extra hands on deck when it comes to interns. Sometimes, though, showing interns the ropes can detract from focusing your efforts on expanding your organization and better serving your customers.

But aside from providing more help around the office, interns help you in fundamental ways that have been definitively shown to grow your business. As an example, two of the most important aspects of growing small- to medium-sized businesses – managing daily workflows and locating new, qualified team members – are likely ticked off your list by having interns around.

Young businesswoman putting adhesive notes on glass wall in office

In fact, studies have shown over two-thirds of interns were eventually offered full-time positions at the companies that those interns spent time with. This tells you that business owners and managers were really impressed with what they were seeing!

The (Soluble) Internship Dilemma 

To get all of the benefits listed above there are a few things that employers can do to facilitate interns’ work and prevent interns from falling into bad habits or chasing their own tails.

Create Schedules and Set Clear Expectations 

One way to get around that potential problem is giving interns daily, weekly, and monthly goals to work towards.

This entails a bit of planning on your part since you’ll have to create schedules and goals that your interns can work towards. Ultimately, these plans should really makes life easier for you, more straightforward for the intern and more beneficial to your organization.

Speaking of Expectation Setting, Conduct an Orientation 

One of the most surefire ways of getting interns quickly acquainted with your business is to allow them to learn the ropes and help build rapport is by setting up a shorter project during the internship orientation session.

This works especially well for determining how much you will be able to get out of each intern and how high they’ll be allowed to fly. An intern who really shines on their first set of tasks might be ready for more serious, more intensive projects.

Conversely, if you notice an intern is struggling to keep their head above water or needs some more intense training, then you have a much clearer picture of how to offer a helping hand.

For instance, if an intern wrestles with their first set of tasks because of lacking time management skills, then you can remedy those right away instead of letting those issues linger and subsequently cause problems for your work flow.

Create Long-term Goals as Well 

To have a more satisfying internship experience an intern typically needs at least two things – a completed project to put on a resume as well as transferable work skills to take into their next (or first) job, perhaps at your company and with your team.

Remember, that your end-of-internship goals or project should be more ambitious than the shorter constellation of tasks that you gave the intern at your orientation.

The “big” project that you’ve set up for interns should be challenging but not overwhelming and based on that particular intern’s aptitudes, previous job skills and experiences, and temperament. Make the assignment too tough and the intern is going to be frustrated; make it too easy, and your business (and the intern) won’t get the maximum benefit from the internship experience.

As with all things in life, getting the balance right is absolutely essential for creating a position experience between you and your audience.

Finally, Run Transparent Performance Reviews 

Let interns know how they’re doing through performance reviews that give them encouragement, push them to go further and allow their skills and output to truly blossom.

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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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