11 Tips for Managing a Team of Interns
At Talkdesk, we love our interns. They have added incredible value to our team and made some major contributions that we are really proud about. They are also young, have a ton of energy and are super fun to work with.
We have had such a great experience with our interns that we would like to share the love. Below are some tips that will help with managing your interns as well as how to integrate them into your team. We hope that you find them useful.
1) Match their tasks with their interests.
During the interview process, I always ask about their interests, what they are excited about and what projects they would like to work on. If they are excited about the task, they will be more motivated to complete it and will do a better job. Taking this time early on will result in a huge ROI.
2) Be prepared.
Decide on a strategy with the intern, talk about how they will execute, prioritize their goals and follow through with timely feedback and guidance. Always be one step ahead of the intern: if they are close to completing a task, start thinking of a new one. Never let a day go by when they are willing to work, but don’t know what to do. That’s a waste of time, money and dedication.
3) Be flexible.
Part of being an intern is exploring a new world. Sometimes, interns might find out super quick that the tasks they thought they would enjoy aren’t what they really want to do. Sometimes, they might stumble upon something that is much more interesting. Allow them to engage in the tasks that are most meaningful and exciting to them.
4) Make it a learning experience.
No matter what task you assign, make sure that the purpose of the task is for the intern to learn something. Never assign something because you want to keep them busy, weren’t prepared, or don’t feel like doing it yourself. Teach them something each day. Their time is valuable as well.
5) Provide them with feedback.
The intern, like any employee, needs feedback and guidance. They likely need a little more than your full-time employees, so be aware of that. Take the time to provide them with helpful feedback and offer guidance. With time, they will be more independent.
6) Make them proud to be a part of your team.
If you treat your interns well, they will spread positive word of mouth about your company and can be an evangelist. Their friends could turn into your customers or your future interns. Include them on your team page, invite them to conferences and let them hang out at the office. Give them company t-shirts, stickers, etc. Encourage them to share blog posts on their own Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin accounts. Do all that you can to make them feel like an integral part of the team.
7) Acknowledge their work and appreciate them.
Every intern should be acknowledged for their work and effort. If they write blog posts or make an infographic, put their name on it (even if there was heavy editing involved). Send out a company-wide email when they accomplish something big. Be sure to let them know that their work is appreciated.
8) Give them opportunities that will help their career.
Interns are spending their time with your company not only to learn, but to make connections and to (hopefully) land a job in the future. Help them make that happen. If they write blog posts, arrange for them to write a guest blog for another company. Introduce them to your friends who are entrepreneurs. Bring them to industry talks, lunches, networking events and conferences. When you present them with exciting opportunities, they will be more excited to work for you.
9) Make the internship fun!
When the intern loves what they do, loves their team and really enjoys the internship process, they will be more dedicated and will remain at the internship longer. Make their experience more enjoyable by inviting them to lunch, coffee, happy hour, company offsites, parties, etc. Encourage them to engage in tasks that they find enjoyable. Allow them to be creative, come up with new ideas and let them roll with them. A happy intern is a valuable intern.
10) It’s ok to fire an intern.
We all make mistakes. Sometimes, interns have a lot of promise, but fail to deliver. They may have been too ambitious, took on too much responsibility, became too busy or failed to put in the effort required to succeed. Whatever the reason, if you feel they are not up to par, it’s ok to let them go. Have an upfront and honest conversation with them. If you feel they were just too busy, extend them an offer to come back when they have less on their plate. Never burn bridges.
11) Write excellent letters of recommendation for each intern.
You should always write a letter of recommendation when asked. For many interns, this could be their first, or only, work experience and so your letter might be crucial for their career. Don’t ever write a half-baked letter just because you feel their work wasn’t up to your standards, you’re too busy or you don’t think it’s important. Take the time to write a good letter and find SOMETHING good to say about them. If you can’t find the time, then you shouldn’t have hired the intern.
Having a team of excellent interns doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a decent amount of resources, effort and dedication. We have had such an amazing experience with our interns that we can safely say that they were definitely worth the effort. They have added incredible value, are super fun to work with and as a team, we may have learned as much from them as they have from us.
About the Author: Tiago Paiva is the CEO and Co-Founder of Talkdesk, an all in one call center software solution for inside sales, support and marketing teams. You can follow him @talkdesk.