Taking on an Intern? Here are Some Ideas for Creating a Mutually Enriching Experience

by / Tuesday, 26 August 2014 / Published in Small Business Hiring

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Intern programs allow small businesses unique opportunities to gain insight, scout for potential hires and provide a positive experience for those seeking new skills and experience in a real business setting. Finding quality interns should be taken seriously, since having an intern who is a poor fit either for the duties entailed in their position or for your company culture will not only create issues for you, but also waste time that they could be using in a program that would be more to their benefit. Don’t simply take on interns just for the purpose of having them, or to make them perform mechanical tasks they get nothing out of. While interns will often be asked to perform data entry and other tasks that more senior staff members no longer have the time to manage, they should also be invited to contribute in meaningful ways to your small business. The fact that they are able to do so is one of the things that will attract them to your programs as opposed to more standardized corporate internships.

Invite new perspectives. Sometimes it can be hard to see the forest for the trees. When running a small business, it can be easy to get caught up in a single aspect of management or development and lose sight of larger goals. That’s why having an internship program can be a great source of outside perspective on your business. Asking for feedback after a completed internship on the details of your program as well a suggestions for business development can serve the twofold purpose of improving your intern’s experience as well as revealing some potentially interesting directions for your business to investigate. Should an idea really shine, inviting the intern who thought of it to put it into action as an employee is another possibility.

Integrate suggested technology updates. When working with interns, odds are good that a large number of them will belong to the millennial generation, which is known for its technological aptitude in particular. Millennials can represent a potentially significant boost in insight when it comes to managing social media, integrating cloud technology and more directed usage of software that might already be in use. Be willing to solicit ideas regarding technology from millennial interns. Even if you are fairly well versed in technology yourself, you may be surprised by a suggestion that would not have otherwise hit your radar map.

Take the opportunity to share skills. When you have an intern, you really have a chance to create a foundation for a pre-trained future employee. At the very least, conferring some real skills on an intern means that they will be able to pass on positive reviews, which in turn will help attract more new interns at as high a degree of skill as possible. Before bringing in talent, think of what you are able to provide for them. If the answer is nothing, then either think harder or don’t bother bringing in someone who is looking for a chance to learn. You will be doing them a disservice by not allowing them the opportunity to grow.

Photo Credit to Savannah River Site on Flickr

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