In today’s workplace, it’s expected that college students secure at least one internship before they graduate. It’s ingrained in the minds of collegiates from the day they step on campus. No internship…no job in the future.
With this expectation, it can be daunting for a college student like me to even begin looking for an internship, let alone succeed in one. While internships look like the cherry on top of a well-rounded resume, it’s time for companies to shake things up and ditch the notion that an internship is only a stepping stone.
A Direct Investment in the Future
Whether you realize it or not, investing in your interns will be a direct investment in the future of not only your company, but also your industry. Don’t you want the next generation to be even better than the current workforce?
We live in an ever-changing world with new technology and innovative practices entering the workplace each and every day. Making a positive intern experience at your company can be the driving force to cultivate the creatives of tomorrow.
Teach, Don’t Tell
One of my favorite sayings is “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” The same goes for interns. Telling them to complete a task will only offer a quick fix. You may need to continue to remind them to do tasks to complete a bigger project, making it harder on your interns to be self-sufficient. It’s kind of like when your mom used to tell you to clean your room and after a few days of her telling you, she finally caved and just did it herself.
Now when you teach, that’s when the magic happens. Taking an hour or two out of your day to walk interns through procedures at your workplace can save you time long term. By teaching, you are not only giving them the ability to complete tasks on their own, you are also giving them tools that they can use after their internship. Think of it like putting money back in a savings account. You don’t see the direct effects, but it’ll all be worth it when you earn interest over time.
Listen Twice As Much As You Speak
I like to talk. That’s why my Myers Briggs personality type always leans on the extrovert side, rather than the introvert. Communication is an essential part of your professional career. But it takes a backseat compared to your ability to listen.
With interns, it’s easy to get carried away with leading the conversation and setting the tone for how you want work to be completed. But encouraging them to ask questions is a far more beneficial tactic than simply talking to them. Questions lead to thoughtful discussion and thoughtful discussion leads to innovation.
Give Them Responsibility
The age of interns getting coffee or picking up dry cleaning is over. It’s time for companies to set the standard of giving meaningful tasks to their interns.
I’m not saying that you should hand over your biggest client to your intern and let the chips fall where they may. I’m saying that passing off work that you don’t want to complete onto your interns isn’t the best move.
Treating interns as a professional equal not only boosts morale, but it gives them a chance to collaborate on tasks that you complete. With the right amount of baby steps, you can start giving your interns more responsibility and increase your productivity when they are proficient enough to help with your workload.
Emphasis On Growth
At PHOS, we have a passion for growth and development. Internships are designed to give college students a chance to grow and gain skills to help set a firm foundation when they graduate college.
I may not have known anything about Search Engine Optimization before my internship at PHOS, but that didn’t stop the team from walking me through the ins and outs of SEO. Now it’s a responsibility of mine. It might not have been on my resume, but it’s now a skill I can use, all because someone took the time to teach me.
It Starts With Interns
While your interns may only be with you temporarily, don’t treat them as someone passing through. Taking the time to help them grow will be one of the best investments your company can make.
Your interns could be your future employees or they could go on to be industry leaders. By making a direct investment in each and every intern that you hire, you are creating an endless amount of opportunities. Your company can be the foundation that interns stand on for the rest of their professional lives.