The Bold Faced Blog™

July 02, 2013

The Proper Care and Feeding of Interns

Posted 5 years 232 days ago by Sheila Ellian Lewis

It’s summertime and we all know what that means – Interns!

Here at Ashton212 we’ve just added two interns and we’re looking forward to what we’ll do together over the coming months. But it seems the news is full of cautionary tales from interns who just disappear with office equipment to interns suing their employer over pay.

It seemed like a good time to reflect on the role of interns, what they can bring to your business and how to avoid some of the horror stories. Here are five tips to ensure you and your interns both benefit from the arrangement:

1. Make sure it’s a real internship

Interns are not unpaid employees. In fact, thinking of them that way has ended up in court for a number of employers. It’s fair to say if your interns are doing menial work around the office rather than learning about the business, then you have an employee rather than an intern.

On the other hand, internships need to be about more than job shadowing. It’s great for an intern to be exposed to meetings and listen in while you make calls or do whatever you do but they also need something substantial to work on.

2. Choose intern projects well

it’s a good idea to have discrete projects that an intern can focus on over the course of the summer. Part of learning about the real world of work is learning how to juggle, of course, so don’t hold back from ad hoc tasks, but giving something more meaningful is vital so they can share what they actually accomplished with their teachers/professors and that they have something to add to their resume. Your intern can take responsibility for leading and delivering a project while drawing on your guidance, and the company benefits from their energy and ingenuity. Video projects, social media campaigns, a research report would all fit the bill.

Additionally, assigning a variety of projects is helpful so that your intern has as much exposure to your business as possible. Ask up front what they want to learn or skills that they want to focus on so that everyone benefits.

3. Hold interns accountable

Providing clear guidelines and setting expectations is just as helpful to interns as it is to your more experienced employees. You’ll probably need to spend more time on checking in with an intern but treat them just the same when it comes to mistakes. They are learning opportunities that can be enormously valuable – don’t let things slide that you wouldn’t for your other team members

4. Help interns network

A recent report showed that graduates aren’t using LinkedIn and many are intimidated by the idea of networking. Introduce your interns to everyone at your business, and as many clients as you can. Take them to networking events and seminars. Help them to create their LinkedIn profile and start building their connections. It’s a lesson that seems to be missing from the college curriculum but who you know is always going to be more important than what you know in your career.

5. Have fun!

Interns are fun. They’re sharp, they’re snappy, they’re up to date on all the latest technology and they do cool things like play soccer at an elite level, or volunteer to help youth who are at risk in their communities, and a thousand other things that you don’t know about. Take the time to enjoy the company of people who are just starting out or are making a career transition – be inspired!

Share your summer intern experience with us here!

Tags: interns networking

Categories: categoryCollege Grads


  • email:chamainew@gmail.com
    chamaine 5 years 232 days ago
    I really like the fact that you suggest interns should have real projects. Projects that have clear beginning and end dates are the best. They provide interns with measurable results which they can use on their resumes.


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