Hiring summer interns is popular for various reasons. They bring fresh, enthusiastic energy to your business, and they’re hungry for experience in your industry. It can also be a way to source a valuable employee, later down the line. On the other hand, they’re inexperienced, so they’ll require time and guidance from you. They won’t have much time with you, so you’ll need to find ways to make the most of that time.
Employing a summer intern can be a rewarding experience for everyone involved. You’re doing your bit for the intern’s personal and career growth and hopefully benefiting your business at the same time. You’re probably doing your industry a favor too, if the intern develops good skills while with you.
However, for this to be the case, hiring the right intern requires careful planning. Following these important steps ahead of hiring will guarantee a smooth process:
1 | LOOK FOR KEY QUALITIES
The temporary nature of summer internships means there are a few risks involved. As the interns know they don’t have much time, they could be less motivated than permanent employees. If they can’t be bothered to be productive, this could be detrimental to the business.
Decide on the kind of person you need ahead of your interviews. Academic achievements are one thing to consider, although the interns may not have many due to their age. It’s important to look for enthusiastic characters who will ask the right questions and listen carefully to what you’re saying.
Creative thinkers with the ability to use their own initiative will be assets, given the short time available. How adaptable are they? As they’ll be integrating quickly with your team, an outgoing character is helpful too.
2 | CREATE A CLEAR JOB DESCRIPTION
In order for the intern to feel comfortable, it’s important that they fully understand their role within the company. Ensure that you create a job description compatible with their skills. It should also include aspects that will aid in their development.
The fewer grey areas there are, the less confusion there will be when the intern starts work. It is a good idea to have a meeting with them to go over the job description, so that they can give feedback on what they’d like to add, if anything. They may have questions about the duties listed, so it’s good to iron these out ahead of the first day.
When expectations are clarified on both sides, there will be fewer bumps in the road. It’s great to get these down in writing as a reference point for the intern; this is also useful when doing assessments at the end of the summer.
3 | PLAN TO INTEGRATE THEM
An intern, however outgoing, may feel a little shy or nervous about being the new recruit within an established team. Their lack of experience will make it an unpredictable situation for them. When they get a chance to see how your team functions together, they’ll understand how they can fit into it.
It helps to make sure that your entire team is expecting them and fully briefed on what they’ll be doing. The intern should be officially introduced to your team, ideally with some kind of welcome meeting or lunch, so that they can get to know who they’ll be working with.
If there is someone in your team they could learn a lot from, consider having that person mentor the intern. This is a great way to give the intern the most value possible, while increasing the chances of them doing an excellent job for you. It also means the intern has someone handy to answer any questions that arise over the course of their days with you.
4 | SET A REALISTIC SCHEDULE
The chances are that you’ll be busy with your own activities over the summer. If this is likely, you may not have much time to give to your intern. It makes sense to plan carefully before their arrival so that they won’t be stuck twiddling their thumbs… or constantly asking questions.
Decide on the tasks they’ll be undertaking, well in advance. Have extra tasks planned in case they’re so efficient that they whizz through them. Meet with your team to find out what the intern could do for them.
Ensure that these activities will also benefit the intern in terms of skills and experience. It is fairest to make sure the assignments will offer some kind of mental challenge that contributes to the intern’s growth.
5 | GIVE CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK
Your intern is likely to welcome some constructive feedback at the end of the internship. It makes sense to conduct an assessment of their overall performance. You can set KPIs (key performance indicators) to make things more clear. This way, the intern will know what is expected of them and what they’ll be assessed on later.
It is also helpful to give regular feedback throughout the program. The intern will then know how they’re doing and be in a position to make improvements on the go, rather than trying to adjust after the fact. Keep in mind that the intern will be eager to please and therefore quite sensitive to your delivery.
It’s possible that they will make a few mistakes along the way, so make it clear that this is normal, while helping them to understand how they can improve. Congratulate them on what they’ve done well and highlight their strengths too. Thank them with a social occasion or gift, if deserved.
By taking some time to plan carefully ahead of hiring, you’ll have the best possible chance of getting the right type of interns. By determining the kind of people you need, making their roles clear, integrating them thoroughly and assessing them carefully, everyone gets the most from the program. You should aim to send out confident, skilled young workers into the world, and who knows… it may even be your company they come back to with these newfound skills and abilities.
Esteban Gomez is a marketing consultant with interviewstream. He loves learning and has a passion for traveling, having visited many countries including China, Colombia, Italy, and Peru.