We are not using our interns and work experience students enough. There are plenty of them and they often don’t contribute much to the organisations they work for.
Here are my top 10 tips for getting interns and those on work experience to contribute:
1 Tell them your approach, your market, your work in words they understand. They often have little experience of work so far and need to have it spelled out to them.
2 Reveal as much of your organisation as you feel comfortable with. You don’t have to give them your trade secrets but the more realistic you can be the better they can see their role.
3 Give them something that is theirs: their own project. And get them to report on what they’ve achieved, not what they have done.
4 You can give them menial tasks but also tell them how important it is. One intern built a database of bloggers: it was menial but of real value to the organisation she was working in and they told her so.
5 Use them for ideas: include them in brain storms. Young people have great ideas. And don’t snap at them when they propose something you’ve tried and it’s failed.
6 Use them for social media projects: they may be years ahead of you in the use of social media.
7 Deliver what you say you will deliver. If you say they will have a variety of tasks, then give them a variety. My daughter, Helen, became expert at sorting out the clothes cupboards at the many fashion magazines she interned at.
8 Socially involve them: they will learn a lot from their co-workers in informal chats.
9 Expose them carefully to the outside world, on trips to clients etc.
10 Have a clear physical space for them to work in: they will lose a sense of purpose if they don’t have a desk.
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