Posts Tagged 'Project Interns'

Internships and Expectations

When companies hire part-time workers or consultants or even, outsource work, they are very careful to define and spell things out for the work that needs to be done. I wonder why companies don’t keep the same rules with summer/project interns? I heard of a recent case of unmet expectations and was wondering if there was a way to make it better. So, here goes my thoughts on the same.

Internships are a wonderful way for fresh graduates and undergraduates to relate to the real world and understand your company, products as well as the various functions. It is a way for the company to learn more about a future employee as much as the other way round. However, more often than not I’ve seen many people use interns to either do the number crunching jobs or expect them to deliver results when they have no context of the company’s strategy, customers or history.

Sometimes all this works out well, the intern learns that you need to do mind numbing work in corporate world, they sometimes outshine themselves and come out trumps because they have no fear of failure or sense of it’s-been-done-before-and-does-not-work! But in majority of the cases, it is a story of unmet expectations on either side. The company failed to set the expectations right to begin with and the interns did not probe and poke around enough to learn about the company.

Can the company or the intern-manager help set this straight? As a first step, setting the right expectations from a bunch of fresh graduates helps and then, giving them a proper orientation and sufficient context and history of the task at hand goes a long way. Getting regular feedbacks is important and so is, stepping up on ownership if there is a need for a lot of internal information to get things done builds. 

I’ve had interns in the past and have had fair amount of success in ensuring that they contributed to the company while learning about the company & marketing in the process. However, I did find that overloading information does not help them a bit because they are not able to process and too little of context does not help motivate them, so striking a balance is important.

What do you think? Do you have a story of a successful intern at your office? How was the experience and how do you think one can make it better?


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