Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wrapping up your intern’s summer experience

August means that the summer is almost over, and if your business had interns, they are likely about to head back to school. Unlike a general student employee, an internship may not continue into the fall and your intern may end up somewhere else next summer. In short, as the summer wraps up you’ll want to make sure that your interns got the most out of their experience at your business.

Let your interns share their work
A great culmination of an internship is letting interns showcase everything they’ve been working on and what they’ve learned. Set up time where interns can present their projects not only to their manager, but also to other employees at the business. This lets interns receive valuable feedback on their work and communication skills from people with varied career experience, and creates a final product to help capstone what they learned.

Help craft an intern’s portfolio
Sometimes internships involve working with confidential projects or data, and it can be difficult to know how to describe the amount and impact of the work an intern accomplished without revealing anything. Tell interns what numbers and information they can share externally.

Suggest that interns record all of the projects they completed over the summer so they remember them in the future. If an intern already started updating their resume, review what they wrote to help make sure they’ve pitched their work well. If they haven’t, share what you think some of their most impressive accomplishments were and what they might want to highlight.

Provide a formal evaluation
If your business has an evaluation tool for your employees, use the same one for interns. Being evaluated lets interns know what their strengths and weaknesses are so they can improve moving forward, and also provides a taste of what they’ll encounter with a real job. Plus, it will be helpful to have performance documented so you can easily remember someone’s work if you’re asked to be a reference later on.

Be a resource for the future 
If your intern did a really great job, make sure to let them know! If you’re willing to write a letter of recommendation, tell them--knowing they already have a supporter is a lot less stressful for them than asking for a recommendation cold.

Even though your intern may not be returning to your business next summer, you’ve already invested time into teaching them. Offer to answer questions they may have in the future about your industry, interviewing, job searching, etc. You’ve spent time working with your intern and are familiar with their interests and strengths, so by drawing on all your personal experience you can offer a lot of beneficial insight into a student’s career even after the summer ends.

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