By Yvonne Manzi
Guest Writer, University of London

It is not uncommon for an organization to hire interns but not carefully plan out their stay within the company. This results in unhappy employees, unhappy interns, and a waste of time and resources on both ends. In order to make sure both you and your interns make the most out of your working relationship, follow a few simple tips.

1. Assign them to a supervisor

Yes, interns will normally be adults who have graduated and are thus responsible for themselves. However, they will have little working experience, and no experience in your company, so it is a good idea to guide them with a supervisor at first. It can be overwhelming and they do not want to feel abandoned.

2. Do make use of their skills and talents

It is easy to assume that because they have little to no experience, they cannot handle real working challenges or haven’t developed enough skills. However, you would be surprised to find out that with just a little bit of guidance most interns will show how capable they are. They will often bring a fresh and younger take on your company which you should not ignore.

3. Make it a learning experience for them

An intern is not an employee and thus is not rewarded by the same benefits. The most important reward they will gather (and the reason they applied for an internship in the first place) is learning from this job. Your working relationship goes both ways and you should therefore make sure you give back to them – they should always be learning in everything they do for you.

4. Make them do valuable work, not just ‘busy work’

This ties into the previous two points. Too many companies make the mistake of using interns as secretaries. They are qualified individuals, with an array of skills, who are there to work for you and learn from you.

5. Include them in your team and company culture

A young intern is very likely to feel out of place in your organization as they are newcomers who are not fully hired and may not end up staying for longer. They are, nevertheless, part of your body of employees and should therefore be treated as such. Do not omit inductions, do not omit them from team meetings and team nights, introduce them to everyone and make them feel like they do belong. They will feel much more at ease and be more likely to be proactive.

6. Ask for feedback at the end of the internship period

Upon their leaving, do ask them for their opinion on the general experience at the company so that you can take on any suggestions for future improvement.

What would you add to this list? Have you had any experiences with past interns, or concerns with future ones, that you would like to share? You can find us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn!

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