It may have sounded like a great idea months ago; hire an intern to help out over the summer. They can do all the grunt work that no one wants to do, plus, you don’t need to pay them! On the surface this may seem like a great idea, but there’s a lot more to consider when hiring an intern.
When set up correctly, an internship can be advantageous to both the intern and the company. The key, however, is to make sure you’ve set it up legally and that the intern and the company will both benefit. An internship is designed to give work experience that will further the new employee’s learning. This work experience should have intentional learning goals and be supervised. What tends to happen, however, is other employees see the intern as fresh meat to work on all the tasks and projects that haven’t been done for months or that no one wants to do (because they’re too beneath them.) The intern then ends up doing meaningless tasks that may serve a purpose to the company or department, but doesn’t provide a learning experience to the intern.
When putting together an internship program, one of the first questions to ask is whether the internship will be paid or unpaid? The Department of Labor has put together guidelines to help answer this question. Many internships will be gray in terms of whether or not they legally meet the DOL’s guidelines for an unpaid internship. As such, more often than not, it’s better to go the safe route and pay the intern minimum wage for their time worked.
A little planning before the intern arrives, will help the internship run smoothly. Set goals about what you hope they’ll learn and what projects the intern will work on. While some schools may require it, regardless, it’s helpful to write a plan about what the intern will be doing. Preparing for how you’ll onboard the intern will also be helpful. For many interns this may be their first “real” working experience, so you’ll want to make sure you cover the basics. Interns need to be managed. They shouldn’t be left on their own for too long. Checking in with them regularly will ensure their success. As you check in with them you can also give them feedback and evaluate their performance. The intern can’t learn if they’re not receiving constructive feedback.
An internship can open new experiences and learning, but they can also be a disaster. What intern nightmares or dreams have you encountered