The stereotypical duties of an internship include coffee runs, passing out mail, licking envelopes, and a laundry list of other menial tasks. But that’s not what your intern signed up for. They want to be challenged, mentored, and molded into a professional ready for the workplace.
To better understand what interns want out of an internship, we asked them! Three of BRAC’s InternBR participants sat down for a Q&A to answer a few questions about what they’re looking for in an internship experience.
Interns Want to Find a Full-Time Job
When choosing an internship, students seek out organizations they one day would like to work at full-time. This means employers can, and should, use internships as a recruiting tool for full-time positions. To do so successfully, employers need to view an internship as an interview not only for the intern, but also for their organization. An organization might be prepping its intern to take on a full-time post-graduation, but the intern is also sizing the organization up to see if it is a place they would really want to work.
So what can an organization do to keep their interns wanting to stay? It can teach the interns exactly what it would be like to work at the organization. Louis Angelloz, intern at Labarre Associates, Inc., says, “My employer provides a whole process manual on how we run our firm. It’s basically a step by step process manual for an Architect.” Take the guesswork out of it. Tell the interns what all positions are expected to do. Give them opportunities to explore the different functions of various jobs. This will help them explore different career paths within your organization, making it more likely for them to find exactly what it is they want to do.
Interns Want Respect
Nothing motivates like a little trust and respect. Create an environment for your interns to succeed and grow by fostering a culture of respect. If your intern has an idea, don’t dismiss it. Listen and evaluate together. If it isn’t something that fits within your organization’s goals, explain why the idea wouldn’t work currently, but still express the positives in the idea. This not only shows your interns that your organization appreciates them, but also teaches them valuable workplace lessons on team management and giving and receiving feedback.
Chet Andrews, internal audit intern at Lamar Advertising, says, “One of my favorite parts of working at Lamar is that I feel respected and listened to. In my interactions with people in various departments, I’ve been treated like an equal instead of being talked down to because I’m an intern. When I bring a potential issue to my boss, he listens and sometimes changes his mind when I bring a valid point. The flexibility and respect I’ve experienced at Lamar have made my experience all the better.”
Interns Want to be Challenged
When asked what advice she would give to employers with interns, Alannie Broussard, communications intern for LSU Residential Life, said, “I would advise employers to always challenge their interns. The point of an internship is to learn and perfect old and new skills and the best way to do that is by being challenged to do tasks that the intern may not have done before.”
To challenge your interns, first get to know them. Understand their strengths and weaknesses and ask what skills they want to improve upon. Based on your discussion, you can then challenge them by placing them on projects that will help them stretch their skillset in the areas they want to improve. And always be sure to provide feedback. Completing a challenging task is one thing, but communicating about the process afterwards and reviewing what was done correctly or could have been better is truly how the interns will learn.
What have we learned from the interns? We’ve learned that communication, feedback, respect, and a little challenge are all integral parts of an internship. These are the qualities that make a great internship program.