8 Ways to Improve the Intern Experience

Nothing beats landing your first internship.

Overwhelmed with nervous excitement, interns prepare for an opportunity toward career success.

As a three-time intern, I’ve learned internships are unique. The experiences are important and, hopefully, you absorb information like a sponge. You learn. You learn you ARE part of the team – to communicate and voice an opinion. You’re being shaped into a reliant contributor, an employee.

And while you’re learning, supervisors are learning to be better mentors. Now finishing my third internship, I’ve found intern success comes easier when superiors apply the following tips.

Check the Focus Help us gain experience based on our interests. Interest generally means a more motivated intern and higher productivity. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t assign tasks outside of that scope. As young professionals, we are looking to attain more skills and add to our resume.

Offer Firsthand Opportunities Interns are there to learn as much as possible from experiences. That doesn’t just include work tasks. I found the more I shadowed my boss in business meetings and at events, the more I understood the business environment. I observed appropriate business communication, gestures, and discussion topics through interactions – adding to the overall experience.

Encourage and Listen Interns want to participate, but are diligently observing workplace communication dynamics and figuring out how to best contribute. To help them adjust, ask for their opinion. Eventually, they’ll become comfortable, and start to contribute ideas, input, and feedback on their own.

Give Up Control Everyone learns differently, but try to strike a balance between demonstration and participation. I’ve found it easier to learn when my boss talked me through the process while I controlled the desktop. Hearing the steps, but operating the mouse made it easier to remember the material when working on my own.

Maintain the Workload Interns work at different paces. Some work quickly and love a heavy to do list, while others become easily overwhelmed. Always check in with your interns; ask if they are comfortable with their task load and have the proper resources for success. Encourage them to ask for more tasks when ready – promoting active communication.

Schedule Touchpoint Meetings It’s good to sync up with your intern daily, but if you can’t, set time aside once or twice a week. You discover their work pace and stay on top of ongoing initiatives. It also allows them the opportunity to inform you of updates, possible questions, and observations.

Work Outside the Office Perspective is everything. Take a break from working in the office space; it’s nice to be in a new atmosphere from time to time (we like to get out of the office every once in a while too). I always looked forward to working over lunch. It was a special treat and made me feel more comfortable with my boss. Working in a new location can also inspire a new way of thinking.

Promote Mentoring Being an intern was a huge learning experience, but it allowed me to teach. You won’t always be the new(est) intern. When the next one comes along, you share your knowledge. Even though you’re still learning, there’s a coming-of-age realization. Allowing current interns to teach new ones, is a great way to transition them into their role in the business world.

Interns aspire to be successful in their ideal concentration. That’s why these experiences are important.

Lead us towards being successful leaders. We may sit in your chair one day, so instead of reinventing the wheel, help us learn from your experiences!