Hiring an intern can sometimes feel like a crapshoot. A resume dripping with experience and a flawless interview doesn’t always mean you’re going to end up with a phenomenal intern hire. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help your intern go from average to awesome during their time in your internship program.
It’s frustrating to discover you’ve made the wrong intern hire. While you may not be planning to hire him or her at the end of the semester, you should still invest the necessary time and energy to help transform them into a better intern and future entry-level employee.
Here’s how to effectively manage your interns to help turn them into more productive and talented team members:
Plan … and Then Plan Some More
Developing a great internship program involves boat loads of planning. Your interns need structure, consistency, and actual work to be beneficial and successful members of your company. Before your intern even arrives you need to create an intern handbook and a slew of projects and tasks for them to tackle during their time with you.
But if your intern is slacking after the first few weeks with you, it may be time to switch things up. Take your planning a step further by setting quantifiable weekly goals for your interns and breaking down larger projects into smaller, more manageable — and easily coachable — tasks.
Play to Their Strengths
So, you hired an intern who isn’t as skilled as you originally thought. Never fear, you can attempt to remedy this problem by finding out where your intern’s strengths actually lie and acting accordingly.
For example, you may have hired you intern for a social media role to find out they’re not as digitally well versed as you planned for. Assign them a variety of projects to find out where they excel. Your social media intern may actually turn into a phenomenal marketing intern if they have a knack for that area.
Get Interns Involved
Rather than throwing in the towel and letting your mediocre intern coast during the rest of their internship, consider immersing them to help them improve.
Open your intern’s eyes to your company and the industry you’re a part of. Bring them into brainstorming sessions, client meetings, conferences, trade shows, and other roles within your company. This will give them a better sense of their own role, where they fit in, and their importance to the company and agency as a whole.
Communicate Freely and Frequently
Communication is the key to better interns. Set up a weekly 30-minute check-in with your intern to discuss projects from the past week and touch on the tasks to come. This should be a very open discussion where both you and your intern can ask questions and share concerns.
You can also use this time to find out how your intern is really feeling about their personal goals, progress, and their role. Give them the confidence they need to trust you and speak freely. Not only will this one-on-one session help your interns to feel more comfortable asking questions and trying new things, it will strengthen their progress, helping your company to thrive overall.