Is My Company Ready for an Intern?

Even though it’s only January, many companies are already starting to think about summer intern recruitment. In fact, if you scroll down this page and look at our live numbers, you can see that summer internships are quickly getting posted to Feeling a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out)? Think you need an intern? You may want to pump the brakes before posting.

I’m all about increasing the number of available internships for students. With the addition of interns, employers can accomplish additional tasks, introduce fresh perspectives and help train/mentor the future workforce. At the same time, students can increase their skills outside of the classroom, network and explore career interests. It’s a win-win!

There’s a danger, however, in poorly-executed internships: Already understaffed employers hire interns and can’t provide them with training or feedback. They don’t put much thought into tasks and projects their intern will be accomplishing. Or they don’t have an onboarding plan for their intern.

Before you plan on offering an internship, consider these questions:

Does my company have someone an intern can report to?

Feedback, both positive and constructive, is crucial in an internship. It allows an intern to understand what type of work and behavior future employers will like and dislike. That’s why a supervisor is so important in an internship.

The supervisor will be the one assigning projects, answering questions, familiarizing the intern with the organization and providing check-ins as needed. As the intern becomes more settled into their role, the supervisor’s work will become less hands on. But for the first couple of weeks, the supervisor should be especially accessible and flexible.

If your company doesn’t have someone that can commit to supervising the intern, perhaps an internship isn’t for you at this moment.

Does my intern have things to do?

One of the great things about an internship is that the intern can walk away with projects and tasks to highlight on their resume. The first thing an employer should think about once they decide they need an intern is, “What is the intern going to accomplish?”

Does your organization have a task it’s put on the backburner for several months? Could your company use a social media refresh? There needs to be a project your intern can “own” during their internship.

There is also a major difference between meaningful project work and “busy work.” An intern’s main tasks shouldn’t be filing, scheduling, grabbing coffee, etc. Interns should be assisting with preparing budgets, creating marketing plans, writing blogs, designing web pages and more. While there will be times when filing, answering phones and similar tasks are necessary, they should not be the intern’s primary tasks.

Does my company have an onboarding plan for interns?

An internship may be the first time your intern has been in a professional environment. They may be nervous, or unsure who to talk to or how to act. A great onboarding plan can change that and make them feel at home!

Your onboarding plan should introduce your intern to key people in the company, show them where important things (copier, break room, bathroom, etc.) are in the office, how to use your company’s phone system, how to get logged in to their computer, etc. It should also be fun and include taking your intern out to lunch to get to know them better.

Also, don’t forget to invite your intern to any upcoming company outings, and let them know about any holidays when the office will be closed. If your organization has any interesting cultural offerings (bring your pet to the office days, casual days, work from home days, etc.), onboarding is the perfect time to share those perks with your intern.

Summer is definitely one of the most popular times for internships, but if your company truly isn’t ready to host an intern, hold off. It’s better to wait until the fall and provide a great internship than to offer a not-so-great opportunity in the summer.

If you need help developing your internship program, please consult our Employer Guide! It’s full of best practices, tips and advice. It also has printable forms such as an internship agreement.

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