The starting point of anyone’s career is being an intern. The skills acquired at this stage become vital as it will be the first corporate exposure a person gains professionally. It is, in other words, the first time a person will be regarded as an adult and be responsible for a specific set of roles. While it is mandatory for anyone without experience to do an internship before proceeding to any other position in a company, not everyone will recall their internship period positively. Whether it was because they had a bad employer or were in a workplace that made interns do mundane tasks without providing proper training for the roles in the relevant department, the entire point of doing an internship is lost. As a result, some may often find their internship not beneficial to their career development, which would be reviewed negatively by another company in judging the quality of your organisation upon hiring that person. To prevent yourself from gaining such a reputation, here is a guide on how companies can train their interns.
But First – Why Should You Hire Interns?
It has often been contested that hiring interns is greatly beneficial to a company. However, some believe that internships are a job role that should only be included in large corporations. This is false, as even SMEs have proven to gain multiple benefits in the long term by offering internships to undergraduates or fresh graduates. Here are five reasons why you should consider hiring interns for your company.
The Obvious: To Reduce Your Workload
The most popular benefit universally known is that interns can be used to reduce the enormous workload in a company. Whether it is an intern for a specific department or an intern that is employed in a company with a specialised focus, interns are a force that helps your business to stay on its toes and streamline the workload received. Typically, interns are provided administrative roles that keep employees from completing their most demanding tasks on time. In the long term, interns can permanently reduce their workload by allocating more serious, time-consuming tasks and considering them for a permanent full-time role in the company.
To Get Potential Loyal Employees
While some companies consider interns as temporary employees who would assist their organisation for a limited period, internships offer businesses a way to attract a loyal workforce. Considering that usually, an internship would be a person’s first job, if they are treated well and provided with proper training, they may want to stay in the company in the long term. In essence, companies are not only investing time and resources in individuals who would leave them after their internship is over but investing in the company’s future by retaining individuals who performed exceptionally well in their internship period. In other words, internships offer an opportunity to test the skills and character of a person before taking them on board as permanent employees suitable for their organisation.
Bring In Different Perspective Into your Business Operations
As interns are generally young graduates, they offer more modern and innovative insights that a conservative business can take advantage of. Since the business world is consistently evolving, market and consumer trends are rapidly changing. Hence, their experience as modern consumers or the new theories learnt in their academics may be essential points that can contribute to the company’s success. As they are motivated and have fresh knowledge in the field, they help companies to gain a unique insight into society when running a corporation.
Increase Your Business Reputation
On the one hand, there are prestigious companies that lack good training opportunities. On the other hand, organisations that may not have a big name in the market may offer a better training experience. In other words, they may learn more from a company that prioritises equipping their employees with skills. Interns finding a job will generally choose between the two. If you are a company that fits into both categories, naturally, you would have higher demand and better respect in the field. You will have no problem finding employees when needed, and such an environment ensures employees are constantly trained to climb the ladder of success. In other words, training is not simply an aspect that should be looked in a profit-oriented point of view but one that establishes your corporate culture.
A Way To Test Your Own Employees
Recruiting interns is not a test towards the individual that will be selected but also a way to assess the character of your employees. Are they good mentors, great at problem-solving and guiding interns under them to flourish under pressure? Or do they simply throw their interns to the deep end? Answers to these questions may help you when making decisions on promotions. The higher one goes, the more leadership qualities are required. Therefore, they should be good at their work, lead by example, be good at teamwork, and help drive their team to success.
Tips to Remember When Training Interns
Keep in mind that although interns are inexperienced, they are talented and smart. However, to truly measure their potential, adequate training must be provided. Here are nine tips to effectively train your interns.
Create Your Own Internship Training Task Sheet
Employees need to record a task sheet for their interns. Do not simply carry out training on the go with no explicit flow. Instead, take the time to curate a rough idea of how the internship should be, depending on its duration. This helps when you test whether the intern is progressing and performing well. It also allows you to ensure that the intern receives a well-rounded training program at the end of the internship. While, in practice, a training outline may not go according to the set time frame as planned, it is essential to be organised so that you can continue to do your own professional responsibilities in addition to leading and helping out your interns.
Provide Daily or Weekly Goals for Interns to Achieve
Giving an intern structure in their work is a great way for them to test out their skills and knowledge gained through training sessions. Hence, set out a list of things the intern needs to complete every week. This allows the employee in charge to evaluate how fast, efficient and great the intern is in completing their work. It also adds to the performance review of interns when determining whether they should be promoted to a full-time position or whether they no longer seem like a worthy investment.
Do Not Hoard All Interns into One Person
Companies that end up recruiting many interns and putting one person in charge of them may not face the most positive feedback. This is because team leaders may not be able to assess each intern and provide individual attention. While in a professional context, each person needs to work individually with some independence, the least an intern expects from their superiors is to help them improve their skills. Hence, where there are too many interns, it may be hard to assess which skill set the company can take advantage of and how an intern’s skills can be broadened. In other words, not only is the intern not given the space to grow, the company is not able to receive the highest return on investment by employing an intern. Therefore it is best to allocate a reasonable number of interns to each employee to guarantee higher productivity.
Identify What Role Each Intern is Best Suited
No individual is the same. Some naturally have been formed to deal with pressure easily. Others could be more people-friendly, great writers, or have creative minds. Identifying which skills a person is most suitable for ensures that they are trained to become better in their most suited department. Asking which field of work the intern is interested in is generally a good place to start. This allows interns to like their work and to improve themselves in their chosen fields significantly. At the same time, however, do not limit them to their most preferred roles. As fresh graduates, they hold hidden skills they are unaware of. Additionally, some skills can only be gained through experience, not study. Hence, pushing them into uncomfortable situations is a good way to broaden their skills and experience.
It is important to ensure that your interns do not feel that anyone is favoured. Various studies have reported that employees favour specific interns for certain reasons. This could be due to similar educational backgrounds, for instance. It is bad for a company to have a reputation that shows favouritism. Ensuring there is a system in place to show that you remain transparent in your way of assessing interns is therefore important. This is especially to guarantee that in situations where an intern is later promoted to a higher position, no issue of credibility will arise.
Do Not Overwork or Encourage Behaviours that Could Lead to Burning out
Some companies uphold an atmosphere which forces interns to work overtime. They are constantly overloaded with work and pressured to finish it by a specific date, requiring them to work overtime. This is unhealthy for the intern and a negative aspect of any corporation. This also reduces the motivation a fresh graduate has towards the corporate sector. Contrary to the industrialised world’s line of thinking that productivity should be maximised to gain rewards in a business, in today’s context, it is essential to understand the importance of your intern and employees’ mental health. It is essential to allow interns to balance their personal life and where they are undergraduates to balance their academics.
Do Fun Team Building Exercises
No company should be all work but no play. Every once in a while, it is good for everyone to engage in fun activities. This helps in building team spirit and also positively influences your company culture. Take out the interns on such excursions so they know what they can look forward to if they continue to work in the organisation. Encourage other team members to also socialise with the interns and build corporate relations with one another. An all-expense paid day out is part of your investment when hiring an intern.
Understand They Are Beginners, and It is Your Job To Guide Them
Making mistakes are natural. When an intern makes such a mistake, remember that this is the first time they do such work. Hence, it is important how you conduct yourself in such situations. Avoid demeaning interns and breaking their spirits. Mistakes will only make them more vigilant and more mindful not to repeat them. However, it should also not come to a point where you must do their work for them. Instead, strike the right balance. Guide them on where they went wrong and tell them how they can respond to such a situation after that.
Appreciate and Reward Interns When it is Due
Similar to how you would point out mistakes when they are made, it is equally important to appreciate their good work when they do well. Even small forms of encouragement that express your belief in what they do and can do can go a long way. It also helps interns who constantly focus on their weaknesses to gain a sense of self-confidence. In this respect, it is advised to start feedback sessions with the positive before straying to the negative. Rewards can also be done by adopting something similar to announcing the best employee of the month. All this helps interns to be seen and like a culture that values their work and provides constructive criticism.
Interns Are A Worthy Investment
Investing in interns is a good call whether you are a large corporation or an SME. It helps you be more productive, provides employees that require help assistance, allows you to foresee a person’s potential in replacing another, and adds a fresh graduate to your loyal workforce. A happy intern will not only find the experience they gain in the company immensely valuable but will spread the word to their fellow friends, family and batchmates about the great corporate culture and training opportunities in the organisation.