Interns are people too, and they are often really good people.
No, I’m serious.
As I talk to our college interns, I am constantly surprised at what other companies and organizations have their peers doing with what could be such an amazing mutual experience for everyone involved.
Interns are not for getting coffee.
Yes, at times, I will ask my intern to do some things like clean up the files on our shared drive or post a bunch of photos to a Facebook page, but even those are teaching moments.
I rarely ask my interns to do something that would not be in a similar job description if their internship was a paid position. In fact, and I’d like you to sit down for this, I actually shy away from giving them things that don’t give them useful experience because every time I do, I am decreasing the value that I am bringing to the table and therefore decreasing the amount that I can reasonably ask of them.
Let me say this, at Em-Media, we are still developing our program. We’re not even close to where we want to be, but we’re actively working on getting there. We’re doing that through a mixture of our own experiences, feedback from our past and current interns, and a healthy dose of borrowing from those companies and organizations that are already doing it well.
I’m intentionally putting a lot of effort into developing the Em-Media intern program for a few reasons, the least of which is boosting our bottom line with free labor and my hatred of walking 100 feet to the coffee pot.
Internships should be an equal value exchange just like all of your other healthy relationships. There are some very basic attitudes and foundation pieces to incorporate into your program development to give your company the best shot of making that happen.