Managing interns can be a tricky thing to navigate, but it doesn’t need to be.
Over the last few years we’ve worked and engaged with dozens of organisations who have a fully-fledged internship system, and a whole lot more who are making increased efforts to welcome interns into their organisation.
For those who have limited experience with interns, this blog post and subsequent download are going to be vital for your learning curve. We’ve compiled 21 of the best tips, tools, tricks and pieces of advice from employers who really understand and promote the intern model.
In this blog post you will find some of our favourite quotes from these experts, but to unlock the 21 ultimate tips and tricks, you’ll need to click through the download at the bottom of this article.
For now, enjoy these sage pieces of advice:
On unlocking potential
“I think it’s important you consider the person, how they will fit into your team and how they will react to your style etc. The person is more important than their skills in my opinion. Some of my best apprentices have achieved less academically but have been rockstars in the ops world, and come up with some of the most creative and innovative ideas I’ve ever seen.”
- Fiona Daly, LIG Consultancy Services
On teaching values, as well as skills
“We deal with so many people and I always try to teach the student interns that you treat everybody with respect; you can't judge by looks. I teach them to treat everybody equally and then try to teach them when they leave here that they have a good work ethic because it's labour intensive here. Our main goal is to try and put as much of it back in the Penn State system but right up there with it is keeping it out of the landfill, doing what’s right, making sure it’s handled correctly. Sustainability wise that’s our goal. The best thing for me is the staff that work here, we work together and I always think you’re only as good as the people that surround you. That’s the most important thing.”
- Glenn Feagley, Penn State University
On clarity, teamwork and finding a good fit
“Being very clear from the beginning exactly what their responsibilities are, making sure they feel part of the team and that they also have some awareness of the other work that the team does. Targeting recruitment at specific areas and courses that are more relevant to the internship is a good idea”.
- Neva Mowl, University of Salford
On recruitment and applications
“Don't use a template job description! Produce a version that people see before they express interest, and a second document to use to prepare their application (more detailed; forms basis of judging criteria).”
- Cat Darsley, University of East Anglia
On setting your intern up for success
“A detailed work plan including a list of key contacts for completing each section. As a work experience graduate working with Warp It, I have found it difficult to come into a new place of work and know who to contact to be able to complete particular tasks and goals. For example, a contact in communications of PR would be extremely useful, as well as a contact in procurement.”
- Lauren Urquhart, Dundee City Council & former intern
On making sure that an intern is mutually beneficial
“We have to be careful about the level of management required versus the added value that an intern brings. They also need to have some background in the field to be useful in the role, otherwise instead of helping to deliver operational projects, management may end up feeling like a trainer”.
- Richard Anderson, University of Kingston
It’s natural to have fears, and bringing on an intern can be a big responsibility, but don’t forget, your intern will be used to getting work done autonomously, following instructions and seeking personal improvement.