Gone are the days when the office intern made coffee and ran simple errands. Companies are now looking to interns as a source for job placement. Internship opportunities provide students with a broad perspective of business operations, and help ease the workload in your office.
Intern applicants put their best foot forward to make a good impression on employers, and for good reason. According to NACE’s 2014 Internship & Co-op Survey, 96.9 percent of employers surveyed plan to hire interns and/or co-op students in 2014.
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But what can you do to ensure you are attracting top talent? The following tips can help employers turn an intern into a valued employee.
Lay the Proper Groundwork Ahead of Time:
You’re hiring an intern for a reason – whether it’s extra filing you need to complete, or re-vamping your company’s social media channels. Regardless of the reason, your intern is interviewing with your company with more than college credit in mind. The on-boarding process will be a transition for you both. They have likely never worked a 40 hour work schedule and will also need more coaching than a seasoned employee.
Take the time to plan the on-boarding process. Determine the type of projects you’d like to designate and select someone on your team to serve as the intern’s point of contact.
To ensure the experience is beneficial, keep them busy with meaningful projects, and be available to answer questions and provide feedback. Communication is key. Don’t let more than two hours pass without checking in or speaking to your intern.
Provide a broad learning experience
Internships are a student’s first perspective into what it would be like to be an entry-level employee at your company. Be sure there is something to learn during every task you assign. Always ensure your intern understands how an assignment, however small, contributes to the overall business objectives for the company.
Many interns apply to work in a specific field that is complementary to their area of study, but by allowing them to work on multiple tasks in various departments you’ll offer a broad range of experience and additional resume-building opportunities too.
Mentor and Solicit Feedback
Prior to hiring interns, develop an evaluation system for the intern and your company. Just as you carefully evaluated interns (and they evaluated you) during the hiring process, consistently follow up to assess their progress and learn how they are feeling about their role within the company.
Rather than waiting until the end of the internship, conduct monthly evaluation sessions. Ask questions about what they are learning, what they enjoy, what they dislike and what they’d like to learn more about. This also provides you an opportunity to evaluate how their strengths and weaknesses may fit into your business model.
Interns can make a significant difference to your business, so be sure to maximize the time that you have them. Who knows, your next intern may end up being your best future employee!