Student internships introduce energy and can infuse much-needed benefits to your organization when taken on correctly. We are sharing some mistakes to avoid.
1. Neglecting to Make a Stiff Internship Plan
Some companies think they’ll hire a student intern, add them to the team, and be done! The intern will work where employees are overworked. More hands on the table equal more productivity, correct? Unfortunately, when expectations aren’t right, that’s not always how it works.
“We’ve learned that having a defined project is an important part of helping interns be successful at the company, rather than just giving them grunt work. Do we do upside-down mentoring? Particularly in this day and age, interns are a huge value-add in understanding how technology will influence buying patterns,” said Jeremy Miller, CEO of FSA Store.
2. Unrealistic Skill Level Expectations
One reason that students look into Student internships with mixed feelings is the fear that they’ll be serving coffee and grabbing lunch. Odds are, they can do a lot more than that. Get interns to tackle real-world business situations and problems. Where they can contribute, but don’t also put them into a project that’s way too over their heads.
“Finding the balance between work that is interesting for them, and work they can actually do is a challenge. It’s not even about capability. It’s about familiarity? Everything is new to them. Assumed knowledge is a real trap in these cases. Keeping the work interesting is critical, but throwing them into anything is not advised,” stated John Cinquina, entrepreneur, author, and brand strategist.
3. Assuming your Internship Program Will Flourish Without Effort
Companies that have blooming Student internships programs in place did not make them in a day. You have to commit to the process to flourish your program into the success you want it to be.
“It’s an investment of time? Especially the first time. Interns require sourcing, interviewing, hiring, planning and of course, managing. This all takes time. My experiences have taught me not to do this as a one-off but to create a Student internships program because efficiency is only realized when you do it regularly. It’s a cost to the business either way and so must be planned as such,” John Cinquina said.
4. Unclarified Expectations
Everything is simpler when rules are crystal clear at the very starting: Be firm that your student interns have an idea of what to expect and what you expect.
“Let them know they are accountable to everyone on the team, and they will be given tasks by everyone in the office. Additionally, set guidelines for their attendance by the number of committed hours per week rather than specific days and times. By doing so, they’ll get creative to fill the hours. If you specify attendance days, they’ll get creative at missing the days,” Bill Donato said.
5. Assigning Only Menial Tasks
Nowadays student interns are looking forward to making their presence felt. Enrich them with real-world teaching and you may discover a new perspective that might solve a current challenge.
“Our interns work on client deliverables, communicate with clients, write for a variety of sources, have accountability and autonomy, and own projects as though they were a permanent member of our team. It’s very important to us that our interns get opportunities to develop and grow in the professional realm and work toward their long-term goals. We onboard them just like any other employee so they feel like a part of the team from the start, which in turn gives them meaning and purpose in their work,” stated Jay Feitlinger, CEO of StringCan Interactive.
6. Overlooking Best Practices
Jack Martin shared his own favored tactics for running a successful Student internships program:
- Maintain a relationship with local colleges to keep your intern database full.
- Post vacant positions on your website with a meticulous description.
- Hire interns for different subjects within your company.
- Interview candidates like full-time employees and select smartly.
- Assign interns an internal mentor who works in the role they ultimately seek.