A fail-proof guide for managing interns in the workplace

Eden Gillespie

Interns can be a great addition to an office. They’re chirpy, enthusiastic and willing to tackle any task regardless of how tiresome it may be.

In exchange for their gruelling efforts, they’re after experience, insight and mentoring. A fair ask, considering the majority of their time is spent packing boxes, photocopying and doing coffee runs.

It’s your responsibility to nurture them and ensure they’re not exploited by your staff, who may decide to work them like a pack mule.

Here’s a guide to how interns would like to be treated.

Make an effort to get to know them

Make no mistake, interns are keen to network and make lasting connections that could lead to future employment. They’re certainly not interested in the arduous and boring tasks that get handed to them.

The reason they complete them with an unfaltering smile and sense of optimism is because they’re hoping that you’ll keep them in mind if an employment opportunity arises.

Get to know your interns because everyone has a story and they might be a valuable team member later down the track.

Give them more to do than fetch coffee and pack boxes

Interns understand that part of the bargain is doing dull assignments or going for the occasional coffee run.

But if all they’re doing is sticky-taping boxes, they’d be better off working at a factory for actual money.

Ask your intern what they’re interested in and provide them with opportunities to explore their interests and move around the company. Even if it’s just a few hours in another department, you’ll be allowing them to branch out and make the most of their time at your company.

Mentor them and give them feedback

Inform your interns that your door is always open to them if they want to discuss the internship or company further.

You were once a wee intern or junior yourself, so give back and inform them of their progress. It’ll be something that they’ll be grateful for after the internship finishes.

Choose interns who are keen

A large slice of internships are occupied by friends and family members of executives. While, that’s understandable, it’s not benefiting your company or allowing a cross-section of enthusiastic and intelligent interns a chance.

If a family member is keen and willing to work hard, then they’re deserving of the position. However, if you’re motivated purely by nepotism, keep in mind that you’re making it infinitely harder for students without connections and disadvantaged members of the community to get a foot into the corporate world.

Interns are an asset to your company, so treat the program as more than a just revolving door system. Befriend your interns and mentor them on their way. It’s not only the right thing to do, but it’ll keep you grounded.

Eden Gillespie

Eden Gillespie is a Sydney-based freelancer who writes about politics, travel, media and marketing.

Twitter: @edengillespie | Facebook.com/edengillespiejournalist | Website: medium.com/@edengillespie

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