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7 Ways to Provide Your Interns With a Valuable Experience

By Lilly Chesser - Nov. 9, 2016
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Internships should serve a purpose for both parties, the professionals and the interns. Whether paid with money or college credits, or just providing extra experience for the interns to place on their resumes, the internship program should be a valuable one.

Most universities have a mandatory amount of internship hours before graduation, and this is because they’re aware of the amount of experience that is required to land a full-time position today. Recruiters are not only looking for this experience on resumes and LinkedIn profiles, they’re looking for it through actions and real portfolio examples.

For the company or organization, interns can be a beneficial asset, especially for ones that lack the technology skills that recent graduates and millennials are so well-versed in. While interns provide extra helping hands, new insight, and different skills that they’ve acquired through college studies and other possible internship experiences, those benefitting from it need to give their time and expertise in return.

Specific tasks and activities depend on the industry of the internship, but to fully prepare our future leaders and create new talents that recruiters and hiring managers are on the lookout for, consider this list:

1. Let them lead

Having a leadership role can be a scary position for interns, but it’s one of the ways to break them out of their shells. It’s also a way to show the importance of their roles as interns.

2. Give them mentors

It’s no surprise that interns look for some guidance when coming to a new program. Providing a steady mentor will provide that guidance, along with a person to refer to for specific questions and needs. While learning through assigned tasks, it’s important to have that one person to go to for bouncing off ideas and gaining helpful advice.

3. Encourage ideas

Having a “seat at the table” is crucial for any job, even for the interns. By including them in brainstorming sessions and requesting their input from time to time, you’re helping to encourage future ideas and showing them the importance of contributing to the conversation. Putting their ideas in action and providing honest feedback is key to the learning experience.

4. Be the happy medium

Being the happy medium means allowing your internship program to be a mixture of academics and the real-world workplace. While giving them the experience of what it’s like to have a real position, you understand that it’s a learning curve and are helping them gain the resources needed to eventually get there.

5. Work towards a result 

More often than not, busy work doesn’t come with an altering result. Giving the interns a project that has a larger purpose gives them a larger purpose as well.

6. Give them something to show

At the end of the program, interns should have something to show for their experience, not just a timecard signature. Whether it’s a copy of the actual project or a report of the ending results, they will be able to take a piece of their hard work with them.

7. Allow them to choose 

A large part of an internship involves gaining clarity. Allowing the intern to choose what they enjoy or are interested in is a beneficial trial run for them. If the department is one of multiple areas, let them have a taste of the area they hope to work in when they graduate. At the same time, encourage them to try new areas afterwards. They could come to the realization that another one is better for their lifetime career.

Huemor, a digital agency in New York, has taken this list and turned it into an educational internship program titled Exosphere. It was an 8-week program where the interns found out what it was like to work behind the scenes of a digital agency with an actual client.

From pitching ideas and handling client feedback, to seeing the result of the project in action, these interns left with hands on experience and real portfolio work to accompany their resumes for future opportunities. Summer’s program ended with the build of a new website, branded materials and external marketing efforts, such as social media and press releases.

The interns also formed new industry connections of different levels, including other interns in different departments. When different departments come together, interns are learning how important it is to be on the same page with anyone who has a hand in the project.

Not only can fellow interns be beneficial connections, they can end up working next to one another in the future. Networking is an important takeaway of a successful internship. Along with skill built from experience, who you know also plays a factor, and a collaborative internship program with a real client is definitely a good start.

The example of Exosphere is beneficial for any company or organization looking for interns. Internship programs are in high demand, and students are looking for ones that are worth the while. A well-planned internship program not only proves the company is dedicated to quality work, no matter who is contributing to it, it shows that the company cares about the industry so much that it wants its future leaders to thrive.

Today’s real-world workplaces look for experience, and even if students’ resumes claim they’ve had it, it’s not always the case. Coffee runs and busy work doesn’t benefit an intern in any way, and it’s not doing much for the company or organization either. These interns may be your potential candidates in the future, so train them as though they will be representing you one day.

As the company or organization that provides the valuable internship experience, you’ll have something to show for it as well. Previous interns can help you to open your eyes to changes that need to be implemented, and help your program become more and more desirable each session it’s offered.


Lilly Chesser

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