Summer internships are a great opportunity for future professionals.
They give them a sneak peek into the working world: How it feels to wake up early every day, to be at work for eight hours or more, to meet deadlines, and to engage daily with your colleagues and boss.
This past summer we had an awesome Millennial intern and her name is Paris Fox.
We debated quite a bit about whether to bring interns in, and not because we don’t have a fantastic team who would welcome them with open arms.
Our reluctance came from a different place: We are a virtual organization with a workforce distributed around the globe.
So having a student with no work experience jump straight into a virtual company might bring its challenges.
Or so we thought.
It turned out we were wrong.
Paris proved to be not only willing to learn new things, but also to adapt to this peculiar work environment.
She asked questions, she participated in our staff meetings, she learned quickly, and she delivered before deadlines.
Maybe we were lucky to have Paris with us this summer. Maybe she’s a special Millennial.
Or maybe you just need a good setting to welcome a Millennial intern.
Ensure the Best Experience for an Intern
While some may say we were just lucky to have an awesome intern, and we agree Paris is awesome, for her to have a great internship experience with us meant us working our butts off.
Here is how we did it.
Just like you need a job description for every new employee, the intern also needs ones.
We created a welcome letter that shared how excited we were to have her on the team and made a statement.
We laid out what she should expect from us, what she would learn, and what she would go back to school being able to talk about.
We also laid out what we expected from her.
What this letter did was not only to set expectations from the very beginning, but also to hold us accountable to her.
That way the intern had a good understanding of what she would learn by the end of the internship.
It’s called the curse of knowledge.
You know what you know and most of the times you expect others to know it, too.
It may be hard to put yourself in an intern’s shoes. After all it’s been a while since you finished school.
But we took extra steps to explain everything in minute detail.
We did not assume anything.
We explained every single task and the rationale behind it—everything to how to respond to a meeting invite and how to behave when your CEO is in a meeting to how to use our company’s apps and software.
We explained how to write and deliver documents for clients, we explained blogging, social media, and image creation.
And in the process, we busted the myth that says Millennials know everything there is about social media.
Just because your intern is a Millennial does not mean he or she know how to do social media in business.
It’s one thing to play with social channels for fun and personal interest, and a totally different matter to manage social media channels for an organization.
Remember explain everything and the reasoning behind it.
As busy as you are with your daily work, when you have an intern in your care, you have a responsibility.
You NEED to make time for him or her to answer questions, to explain things, or to have meetings, sometimes several in a day.
You are responsible of how they see and experience the work world, what they learn.
Don’t take that responsibility lightly.
It’s so easy to throw stuff for your intern to do.
Don’t be that person!
Have someone in your company manage his or her workload.
You don’t want everyone on your team to throw stuff at him/her.
And, when you do manage an intern’s workload, remember he or she has no work experience, so don’t expect them to deliver as a pro.
Be mindful of how much work you give them in a day.
Celebrate Small and Big Wins
Your intern needs encouragement with every step for everything they do.
Building their confidence is in your hands, so be careful.
Give feedback, guidance, and advice.
Remember to celebrate wins no matter how big or small.
Encouraging someone on the work they have done has amazing results as opposed to the old style —shouting at people.
There you have it, this is our “secret recipe” to create a fantastic internship experience.
Now it’s your turn, what would you add?
image credit: shutterstock