What your intern wishes you knew about managing them

What your intern wishes you knew about managing them

Interns are a great addition to many businesses. Boundlessly enthusiastic and sharp as a razor, a great intern will want to prove to the organization that’s hiring him that he’s the best person for the job. That’s what every manager or boss thinks about interns. Some people who are more unscrupulous might take advantage of the apparent oversupply of interns and get them to do overtime or jobs that are outside of their field. I mean, they’re just there for the experience, right? Let’s do a complete 180 now and put ourselves in the shoes of the intern. Knowing what interns think of you and your organisation will put you in better stead to extract value from them beyond their ability to do menial tasks.

“Just because I’m young, doesn’t mean I’m stupid”

Interns are almost invariably young. Fresh out of college or university, they have an ideal view of the world. Some might have done some part-time work before, so they know it’s not all sunshine and roses. Thinking that they will just mindlessly work for you, performing $10 an hour jobs is not acknowledging a vastly superior advantage they have over you: a fresh pair of eyes.

If you’ve been mulling over a business problem for a long time without making any headway, placing your ego to one side and opening your mind up to the thoughts of anyone in your organization – including interns – can yield some potentially unique insights that you never could achieve by yourself.

“Something that I have really appreciated from my internship experience is how much trust and responsibility that I was given right off the bat. It has given me the opportunity to learn how to take initiative of projects in a corporate setting and I am very grateful for that”, shares Clare Dlesk, an intern who just wrapped up her summer internship experience here at Quill.com.

The tech wave that’s sweeping the nation, largely ushered in by the smartphone and social media revolutions tend to hire younger candidates. Not only are they more in touch with the needs of modern technology users, being born and molded by technology is a lot different thanadopting it. Interns will have a different mindset and approach to you. Use that and prosper.

“Inspire me or I’ll leave”

Gone are the days that the company that you start your first “real” job at will be the company that you retire in. Heck, many people won’t even stay in their current role more than three years without expecting something in return. The mistake that managers make is thinking that interns are just in it for the money. While this may be the case early on, especially with the first job, this is almost always not the reason they’re working for you for the long term.

Even the most money-focused intern acknowledges that if they’re to work for their company in the long run, they have to enjoy it. They have to feel engaged, feel like their contributing to the overall purpose of the company’s existence and most importantly, they have to believe in it.

Without delving into it too deeply, this mindset and attitude towards working seems to be product of Generation Y mentality that stems from instant gratification. However, young interns aren’t so unreasonable so as to acknowledge that they can’t simply keep jumping from job to job, especially in this economic climate and especially if they do intend on living the American Dream. However, they will put up with less and leave an organisation and its people whose values don’t align with their own.

“I need respect too!”

I once worked in a company that hired an intern from Malaysia. She was a Masters of Multimedia student who was an absolute whiz with anything to do with animation and video. She single-handedly animated and edited an entire company video and designed the graphics in a game that received thousands of downloads from the App Store.

Like many interns though, she wasn’t paid. She was only called in when she was needed. If you’re a responsible manager or business owner, you’ll remunerate your intern for the value that they create with something of equal value. “Doing it for the experience” just doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s a lazy, selfish way of viewing interns and staff. As long as you’ve got that sort of mindset, you won’t understand why your staff turnover is so high.

It all starts with acknowledgement and taking the initiative to reward those who do good work to do more. In engineering, it’s called a positive feedback loop. As a manager, it’s called common sense. Unfortunately, common sense isn’t so common anymore.

If you’re finding that your interns aren’t as proactive, engaged and happy as they were when they first started working with you, it’s important to find out where things started breaking down. Have you been respecting and acknowledging them for their efforts? Have you asked them how they felt about your mission statement? How often have you asked for their input on big picture things? Manage your interns as people, not work horses and you’ll have someone who will work for you, not for your money.

Are you prepared for your intern’s arrival? Read on: https://www.quill.com/blog/workplace-culture/your-summer-intern-is-arriving-soon.html