As summer internships are wrapping up and you’re preparing for your next wave of eager interns, take a moment to stop and reflect on your internship program. Ask yourself this: Are you really imparting any valuable lessons on your interns?
Your interns want to learn–that’s why they’re with you. Doling out awesome, immersive projects is crucial to their learning experience, but it’s also your duty as an intern manager to train them on more than just specific industry-related skills and tools. Their future careers depend on learning and fine-tuning general business skills, which can often be overlooked as “no brainers” if you’ve been in the work world for a number of years.
Today’s interns are tomorrow’s entry-level employees. Make sure your internship program does its part by sharing the following 10 business lessons with interns:
1. Teach them how to network. With 80 percent of jobs secured through networking, it’s safe to say it’s a necessary skill for every professional. While you may set up a variety of networking opportunities for your interns, are you actually coaching them on proper networking techniques? Take them along to industry conferences, introduce them to top company leaders, or set them up on lunch dates with full-time employees. Make a point to not only explain the importance of a variety of networking efforts, but also to evolve their current networking skills.
2. Teach them how to handle criticism. As Millennials, it’s likely that your interns thrive on feedback. But there’s a big difference between how many people handle positive and negative feedback. Tell your interns how to strategize in the face of constructive criticism. Ask them to create a plan of action when it comes to improving based on feedback, rather than feeling downtrodden.
3. Teach them how to efficiently manage their time. Perfecting the art of time management is a challenge nearly everyone faces. Working efficiently doesn’t just make your life easier, it also saves your company, clients, and customers money in the long run. Enlighten your interns on some time management hacks you’ve garnered throughout your years in the industry — how can they organize their inbox? Is there a software program that can help them to automate certain tasks? Give them tips and ask them to continue their search for greater efficiency.
4. Teach them how to effectively communicate. Your interns are likely strong communicators if they made it into your internship program, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be coaching them further. The ability to communicate in a variety of settings is essential to a successful career. Does your office have a strict “never reply-all” email rule? How should they address the CEO? What’s the proper timeframe for following up with a client? Guide them on communication styles and best practices throughout their time with you.
5. Teach them how to work as a team. Internships aren’t just a time to master individual work ethic — your interns should be learning how to accomplish goals in a group setting. If you have a group of interns, create a project for them to tackle together and give them feedback during the process.
6. Teach them how to seek out and solve problems. Every employer wants their employees to be expert problem solvers. Once a week, assign your interns the task of brainstorming ideas to solve a specific problem in regard to their role or the company. As they progress, let them find their own problems to solve.
7. Teach them how to manage a presentation. Speaking and presentation skills don’t come easy to most people — it takes experience and practice. This is why it’s important to not only help your intern hone these skills, but also utilize them. Consider having your interns present their final project to your executive board at the end of the semester.
8. Teach them how to listen. The best leaders are those who are always listening. Train your interns to always carry a notepad with them and listen carefully to their surroundings or during meetings. This will help them stay on top of their internship role and identify gaps where they can help or grow.
9. Teach them how to take responsibility. Your interns need to understand the importance of taking responsibility and ownership of their work, regardless of whether it’s under positive or negative circumstance. Guide them on how to properly stand up for themselves and the work they’ve created by attempting to play devil’s advocate when it comes time for feedback.
10. Teach them how to lead. While your interns probably won’t be in a management role for awhile, they will need to know how to effectively lead. Train them on how to lead their coworkers and team members — consider having a “flipped day” where interns take on managerial roles or shadow their higher-ups.
It’s easy to overlook basic business lessons as an intern manager. But training your interns on these professional necessities will positively impact their career and employers in the future. Use these tips to keep your interns on track!
Read More: 5 Ways to Be A Successful Intern