Six Tips for Managing Summer Interns

Interns can be a great help or a huge headache. On the plus side, they are a cheap way to have some extra hands around the office. In addition, hiring an intern is a great way to pay it forward. However, an intern who is not the right fit can become a timesuck. Here are some tips for working with your summer intern.

1. Have a clear job description When hiring interns, clarity is of the utmost importance. You do not want any surprises on your intern’s first day–if either of you had expectations far different from what actually happened, it does not bode well for the remainder or the summer. Keep in mind, if you want an unpaid intern, there are many regulations as to what he or she may or may not do. A job description helps you keep within the law.

2. Assume the worst.  Don’t expect your intern to intuitively grasp office behavior. It’s possible that he or she will know (especially if your intern has already had office experience). It’s best to err on the side of caution, rather than waiting until there is a problem.

3. Use projects. The point of an internship is to teach someone new how the real business world operates. Sure, menial jobs are a part of any internship, but include some weightier items as well. Have your intern accompany you on a sales call.  Introduce him or her to clients. If you have something interesting, let him or her shadow you. Your intern isn’t just here to work–he or she is here to learn.

4. Give specific feedback. Interns often don’t know what they’re doing wrong–and sometimes don’t even know what they’re doing right! The more specific you can be, the more likely your intern will perform well.

5. Consider hiring someone without a perfect academic record. Grades are only part of the entire. Instead, look for someone who loves your field and who has enthusiasm.  You may find someone who fits the bill.

6. Discuss references. You will probably be one of the first  So, be clear with your intern over what you’ll say. If he has not worked out, let him know that you can’t give her a good reference, so he won’t list you on future applications. If he’s been fantastic, let him know that you are happy to give him a positive reference.

See what the Harvard Business Review has to say about summer interns.

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