“All I did was do coffee runs and it was such a valuable experience!” (Said no interns, ever.)
Internships are about helping someone learn about their future industry, not scoring yourself a free coffee runner or envelope-stuffer. Seeing as the mid-year University break is here, some of you probably have eager interns knocking at your door. We thought it this was an ideal time to get the scoop on how to offer an awesome internship experience (which can help you out as well), so we spoke to an expert: our very own extraordinary intern.
Do unto your intern as you would have them do unto you.
Think about the role you’re providing- is it an internship you would find worthwhile? Your interns should have the opportunity to contribute to and work on projects and tasks that have an impact rather than having them remember the office’s coffee order.
By shifting the focus from such menial tasks, you’re offering your intern value for their time as well (Win, win!) by helping them develop relevant skills to the workforce and experience to start building up their resumes. Start off providing small and less significant tasks and gradually build upon these as new skills are learned. Briefs may then become more challenging as your intern learns the in’s and out’s of the workplace.
Up-skilling your intern is valuable, however, your company can’t rely on their sales efforts to make its numbers for the month! There are plenty of local laws and restrictions around what you can-and-cannot have your intern do for you, so research carefully before taking them on (a good place to start is the Fair Work Ombudsman).
Structure is hey.
It’s essential that your internship program have structure so that your interns aren’t sitting finishing a task and immediately needing to check in with you for the next job (all those disruptions add up over the course of the day!) Think in terms of projects and ‘back-up tasks’ for them to move onto when they’ve finished their main job.
If you’re a big enough company to offer a large internship program, you also allow the opportunity for your interns to form a network with others, allowing more group collaboration on projects.
If focusing in on detail is more your thing, smaller programs involving only one or two interns can also be beneficial for more one-on-one training and greater responsibility.