Interns can be a great addition to your small-staff organization. Not only can they relieve you of some of your day-to-day tasks, but they can bring fresh ideas to the table - and for a fairly cheap (if not free) price, at that.
But managing interns is a job in and of itself. That’s not to say it’s hard. It just requires a little extra focus and attention.
If you’re thinking of hosting a summer internship program, check out these four tips for effectively managing interns at your small-staff association:
Prepare in advance
Before your intern steps foot in the door, think carefully about what it is you’d like for them to accomplish. What are their daily tasks going to be? What major projects do you want them to work on? Put together a detailed job description and/or work plan that you can both reference as needed. Sure, there will be some projects that come up unexpectedly, but for the most part, having at least an outline in place will ensure you’re making the most out of everyone’s time.
Schedule weekly check-ins
There’s nothing worse than being “the forgotten intern.” To prevent that from happening, schedule weekly sit-down meetings with your intern to go over current and upcoming projects. Make sure they have a good understanding of what’s going on, and more importantly, are happy with their current role at your organization. (You want your interns to be happy so that they’ll tell other prospective interns about your organization.)
Assign them meaningful tasks
While some administrative duties, such as answering phones and making copies, are a natural part of internship life, they shouldn’t be the main component of your internship opportunity. After all, what are those tasks really going to teach someone? Consider giving your intern a few larger, more meaningful projects - or at least pieces of larger, more meaningful projects. Try to leverage their strengths, if possible, and if they express interest in a particular area, try to provide them with a project that corresponds. The more your intern likes the work they’re doing, the more effort they’ll put into it.
Serve as a mentor
Above all, try to be someone your intern can learn from. Remember, internships should be mutually beneficial, so it’s important that you carry your weight. Allow your intern to ask questions during your weekly one-on-ones (even if those questions don’t relate to a particular project), and provide them with important industry insights. Think about some of the things YOU wish you knew at that stage of your career and share those with your intern. Those insights will be most appreciated.
Want more tips for managing your interns and/or volunteers? Check out our free Volunteer Management Guide below!