Managing Interns Effectively: What You Need to Know

Managing Interns Effectively: What You Need to Know

Interns aren’t just affordable employees. Ideally, they may be eager to work at your company in the future. A talented intern can easily become a talented long-term employee if you make the right impression.

That’s why, as an HR professional, you should coordinate with executives and management to ensure you’re doing what you can to give your interns a positive experience. The following tips will help. To give interns good reasons to work for you when they graduate college, keep these points in mind.

Give Them Real Duties

Internships sometimes involve completing mundane tasks that aren’t challenging or stimulating. Some managers believe getting an opportunity to see how a company operates behind-the-scenes (and getting the chance to network) is enough to satisfy an intern.

That’s not always the case. While an intern probably shouldn’t be in charge of a major project, it’s still important for the tasks they’re assigned to be relevant to their skills. If their only duties are making copies and answering phones, they won’t get a good idea of what full-time employment at your firm would actually consist of. As a result, they may not be very enthusiastic about working for your company later.

Assigning appropriate and interesting tasks to interns will involve coordination with management. HR professionals usually don’t get the final say in deciding what types of duties interns should have. You need to work with managers directly to ensure they are giving interns responsibilities they will find relevant and challenging, but not beyond their skill levels.


Know Why You’re Hiring Them

Focus is key when hosting interns. If you simply treat them as workers who can be assigned many different kinds of tasks at random, they won’t get the chance to genuinely experience what it’s like to fill a specific role at your organization.

You need to have a clear goal when hiring interns. Know exactly how you’re going to leverage their talents, and they’ll feel as if their talents are actually valued.

Avoid Assumptions

Don’t assume an intern has particular skills or knowledge simply because others who work at your company do. Often, people need to actually work in their industries before fully developing their talents. You could make interns feel as though they won’t ever be equipped to succeed at your company in any real capacity if their manager makes assumptions about their experience.

Interns typically haven’t held significant responsibilities at companies like yours. They’re usually still in college. As a result, they may not have yet reached a point education- or career-wise where they are familiar with the type of work they would potentially perform in the future. While it is still important to challenge them, it’s also important to treat them as less-experienced professionals who may not be ready for certain duties without proper guidance.

Give Feedback

Surveys reveal most employees want to receive more feedback from their managers. When they get feedback regularly, they are more likely to be engaged with their work.

The same goes for interns. They want to know whether they are doing a good job. Additionally, when they lack certain skills, they also want to know how they can grow and improve. If interns don’t receive consistent feedback from a manager, they won’t be engaged, and thus won’t be likely to apply for a real job at your company down the line.

Once more, as an HR professional, giving feedback to interns in other departments may not be your responsibility. You need to discuss performance with interns’ managers, letting them know scheduling feedback sessions is part of successfully hosting interns.


Encourage managers to take the time to learn exactly why interns are interested in potentially working at your organization. Doing so doesn’t merely tell you whether they’re passionate about your line of work. It also gives them reasons to examine their own motivations.

If they are asked why they are interested in your company, they may reflect on their own feelings and realize they are genuinely passionate about your mission. This boosts engagement and gives them more reason to seek employment with you in the future.


Offer Flexibility

Again, most interns are college students. Even if they’re on summer break, there’s a good chance they have busy schedules and other responsibilities.

Remember this when designing internship programs. Yes, you should treat the role like a real job, but you should also be flexible. You don’t want to make your interns feel as though expectations are unreasonable.

Acknowledge Them

Interns want to know the work they do is valuable. This is yet another way in which they are just like actual employees. Acknowledging their contributions is key to boosting their engagement.

Remember these points when hosting interns. In many cases, strong interns go on to become strong employees. Making them feel welcomed and valued at your company ensures they will consider your organization later on when they start looking for real jobs.

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