Remote work in itself can be challenging at times and adding interns to the mix may seem daunting at first. Often times, you might find yourself trying to find a balance between your own day-to-day responsibilities as well as managing your interns. In this article, we wanted to outline a few tips for how you can better balance your work and your interns to ensure a positive internship experience.
Before we dive into things, let’s clarify why you should care about your company’s internship experience in the first place (if you’d like to jump directly to the tips skip ahead to the next section).
Why you should care about your internship experience
In today’s economy, the search for top talent is fierce. Companies have begun tapping into student talent earlier and earlier, and internships (or co-ops if you’re Canadian) have been an effective way to do so. We’re seeing more companies focus in on the internship experience, creating unique programs that often offer training, mentorship, and community. Internships and co-ops are a way for young talent to get a feel for your company culture, industry, and simply what it is like working at your company. If all goes well, the interns you have brought on could one day become the full-time talent that helps drive your company’s mission forward.
After all, a positive internship experience can lead to heightened retention of early talent as well as increased visibility of your company. On the other hand, a poor experience may not do your company’s culture and team justice — we’ve all heard stories about disorganized internships leaving students feeling disengaged (and yes, students do discuss their internship experiences with each other). Now, we know not all companies are able to bring on folks who are dedicated to leading your company’s internship program so here are a few tips to help ensure your internship experience doesn’t slip through the cracks.
Tips for balancing work responsibilities and your interns
Vocalize communication norms.
Some interns may need more direction than others; let your interns know what the best way to communicate with you is for feedback, questions, etc. (e.g. “for questions send a Slack message, for feedback look at my calendar and book a 30-minute meeting”)
Be transparent and don’t ghost.
Unexpected things happen and work can get overwhelming at times. If you’re finding that you’re stretched for time, be transparent with your interns and let them know. Never ghost your interns when it comes to meetings, instead try to propose a new time to meet.
Block off dedicated time in your calendar for your interns.
If you are able to, set aside some dedicated time each week for your interns. This could come in the form of a weekly meeting, office hours, mentorship, and more. It’s good to have this in the calendar from the start so that you don’t find yourself squeezing in extra meetings last minute and so that your interns can expect when to have some dedicated time with you.
This goes hand in hand with Tip #3; in the meetings you do have with your interns make sure you are present and focused on them. Try not to get distracted with other work and be intentional about hearing out what they have to say and what their goals are.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
As interns, we understand that you may have a lot on your plate. Let your interns know if there is anything they can potentially help you with. If there is nothing in specific they can help with, see Tip #6 below.
Have additional material ready.
Often times interns can complete tasks faster than you might have originally anticipated. Try providing some resources for your interns to dig deeper into on their spare time if they have run out of tasks (e.g. an online course, a podcast, a blog, a side project).
Teach them how they can effectively keep you in the loop.
Every company may do this differently however, one tip we suggest to help you keep up to date on your student’s progress in a hands-off way is to have them send weekly (or even daily) Slack messages on the status of what they’re working on and any roadblocks they may be facing.
Try using an internship management solution.
For something more organized and scalable, try using an internship management platform like the Lumaki Board. This allows you to administer tasks for your interns ahead of time, track intern progress, and store resources all in one space so that they can be used again with your next group of interns.
Your internship experience is a reflection of your company to future talent. We know running an internship isn’t easy (especially in the midst of a pandemic) but, intentionality and clear communication can make a world of a difference. The little things do add up and your interns will appreciate the effort you put in to ensure they are informed. Having other work responsibilities shouldn’t compromise your internship experience and this is one of the reasons why we started Lumaki Labs!
(P.S. if you’ve made it this far and you are someone who is bringing on interns, I wish you the best of luck and I can already tell you’re headed in the right direction!)
Thank you for reading. If you have any thoughts about this post or would like to expand on this topic, shoot my team and I a message at firstname.lastname@example.org! 💡