Advice from a Student: How to Get the Best Out of Your Intern

 

By Ogheneochuko. V. Okor

Internships are an important part of a student’s life. They give students the opportunity to gain real-world work experience before entering the workforce. Students need these (often unpaid) internships to develop sustainable skills and to build a professional network.

However, internships are a two-way relationship: They are a job for both the student and the employer. The student’s job is to strive to excel. The employer’s job is to give advice and guidance. Here are five tips to help employers get the best out of their student interns:

1. Challenge your interns: Your interns are probably young and full of ideas. Challenge them to use that creativity to your benefit. Take time to learn what skills your interns already have and help develop them. Give the interns tasks that will help them grow. In the end, this will be mutually beneficial.

2. Give guidance: In the first week, it is important to communicate expectations and create an environment that will foster success. Do not assume that your interns will know certain things. Some will prefer to be given a thorough walk-through, and others may prefer to dive right in. Be open to questions.

3. Offer constructive criticism: If you don’t like your interns’ methods or actions, say so and explain why. On the flip side, if you like something your interns do, tell them. Feedback is very important because it helps your student interns know what they are doing wrong and what areas they need to work on.

4. Be sensitive: There is a difference between challenging interns to do better work and drowning them in it. If you want to see how much work an intern can handle, increase his or her workload periodically. This will push the intern to be productive while preventing him or her from feeling overwhelmed.

5. Encourage them: Lastly, encourage your interns. A “Nice job!” or “That was amazing!” will go a long way. Encouragement helps interns feel at ease and might even make their day.

Ogheneochuko. V. Okor is an international student at the University of South Florida. She is majoring in mass communications with a minor in creative writing.