Interns Are Candidates Too; 3 Ways to Improve the Intern Experience

4.5.19 | Think of an internship as an extended job interview.

Actually, it’s the ideal recruiting situation – you identify an individual with potential and then see how his or her skills play out within your organization. Simultaneously, he or she experiences your employer brand and becomes entrenched in your company culture.

If it’s a good fit, great. If not, parting ways is not quite as painful. But more often than not, it works out. According to the National Association of Colleges & Employers, in 2018 more than half (59 percent) of interns received job offers from their respective employers.

As internship season nears, employers need to see interns for who they really are – job candidates – and treat them accordingly.

Improving the Intern Experience

Focus on an intern’s experience for the same reasons you do for a candidate – to boost your employer brand and capture talent that complements your organization and its culture. Here are three ways to improve the intern experience:

1) Give them meaningful work

Having interns fetch coffee is outdated. And while administrative work may need to consume a majority of their day, make sure their scope includes activity that requires critical thinking, creativity, and other skills their future job may entail. Ideally, give them specific tasks that contribute to a meaningful project, something they can brag about.

2) Don’t keep them in a silo

Interns want to see and understand your company and how it operates at different levels. Don’t confine them to a cubicle. Invite them to tag along on a sales call, sit in on a strategy meeting, or visit a plant or warehouse. Give them the whole picture. Additionally, include them in company events, i.e. a family picnic, a holiday party, in-office celebrations. They’ll gain a better understanding of your business, your culture, and they’ll appreciate the invitation.

3) Give feedback

Interns want to do their job well and most are very eager to make a good impression. Don’t hesitate to praise them, especially in the company of others. Also, don’t miss the opportunity to share constructive criticism and suggestions on how they can improve their performance. While you’re likely to see improvement in their work, you’ll also have the opportunity to see firsthand how they respond to feedback.

Summer is coming and so are the interns. This year’s interns could be next year’s full-time employees. Treat them right.

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