5 things to enhance your intern’s experience

When I started my internship, there was a great deal of information to take in at one time. This can be extremely stressful, not only to the interns but also to the people who work with them. It takes time to fully explain procedures and then to repeat that same information again because the intern didn’t grasp it the first time can be time consuming.

Like all internships, the main purpose is for the intern to learn and grasp a full understanding of what it actually means to be in that career field. But, not all programs provide the type of learning environment that makes the student feel comfort while there. The last thing a student or a company wants to do is waste a large amount of time because of situations like this in the workplace.

To most students, taking on an internship for the first time can be intimidating. Even though all of the people I work with during my internship are professionals in their own right, it felt annoying to interrupt them with repetitive questions (even though this was not the case). The only silly question is the one you don’t ask; words to live by. So, here are five tips to help your intern feel at ease during their experience with your company:

  1. Provide a handbook. On first day of my internship, there were so many things to remember. Even though I was sent a handout via email informing me about a few things that were required, it never actually explained how or when I should perform all of the tasks. But, the previous interns left notes explaining how certain things worked around the office and everything was explained as we went along. A detailed handbook keeps others in the office from spending a lot of time explaining daily tasks. It makes for a great reference book for the intern to refer back to.
  1. Create a communication platform. During my internship, I learned the importance of communication, especially when it came to completing assignments. Since we live in a world where almost everything is done on a computer, emails were the best way for us to stay in constant communication. They provide us a comfortable avenue of communication to talk about any topic, whether it’s job related or just a friendly conversation.
  1. Assign an intern manager. Having someone with whom an intern can become familiar can diffuse some office tensions, which could be lingering between the intern and the office setting. During my one-on-one sessions with my intern manager, I had the chance to talk about upcoming assignments, get insight on work on completed assignments, and speak about what areas needed improvement.
  1. Assign interns an actual company project. The best way for a program to work is to allow the intern an opportunity to showcase training by assigning real projects with real deadlines. It’s one thing to watch an assignment being done, but hands-on experience – from start to finish – offers a wealth of information for the intern. Most entry-level internship programs don’t give students real assignments, but during my internship at Obsidian, I was given real work to do. That gave me a chance to apply all the skills I learned from my PR classes.
  1. Encourage team involvement. Assigning projects to interns makes them feel like they are part of the company, not just an someone who is there to make coffee runs for the office. As an intern, I felt empowered when others on the team asked for my help with assignments or asked for my input. It gave me the opportunity to not only learn even more about how the company ran, but also how each individual played an essential role within the company.

The author, Kerri Holiday, was a Level 1 Intern (summer 2015).