By Rui Zamith, co-founder of Internwise
Once interns were just for large companies, but now many small businesses have benefited from hiring interns too. However, many struggle to get the best out of their interns and have them making tea, photocopying and doing gofer jobs. For those companies that didn’t provide pain internships in the past, they can no longer take advantage of free labour now with the HMRC cracking down on unpaid internships.
As a business you can really benefit from having an intern this summer. However, companies in the past have overlooked the needs of their intern and have consequently not been able to reap the rewards. Because of this, here are the 10 most common mistakes businesses make when hiring interns.
1) Not having a clear purpose for having an intern
Do you have a reason for hiring an intern? You are not going to take on a new member of staff without a purpose, so why should an intern be any different. Having a job description highlights how you will integrate them into becoming a great resource for your business.
2) Failing to define terms and conditions for your intern
An intern is another employee, so terms and conditions are a must. A start/end date must be established. Plus where they will be working and even something like holiday entitlement are simple pieces of information which any employee would need when starting a new job.
3) Interns never understanding the company culture/ vision/ results/ achievement/ founders story
Every member of staff needs to know about how and why the business was created. This sets the tone for why the business operates and what you as the employer are looking for in terms of growth and employee expectations.
4) Forgetting interns want to impress you
Internships are great ways to find a job these days. Don’t forget interns are willing to go that extra mile to secure employment; so why not challenge them and see if they can handle working for your company.
5) Forgetting every intern is unique
Everyone is unique. We all have our own background, education, age and even life experiences. This can affect the way that interns adapt to your company. It is important to establish an induction; but just not forgetting that every intern will be different and understanding this is key.
6) Failing to listen to the fresh pair of eyes an intern has
Interns will bring fresh new ideas, concepts and motivations to your business. A talented graduate will want to challenge the status quo and ask why your business operates in this specific way. They could find new opportunities or suggestions for improvements as they have not yet been conditioned to your businesses way of life.
7) Not teaching the intern
Interns normally are either off for the summer or have just graduated. They will come in with an open minded approach and be willing to learn. Interns will never reach their full potential if they are not able to develop. If you are looking to hire the intern at the end of the summer, investing time into tailoring them for roles/tasks can pay off in the long run.
8) Not making it clear why the intern is doing this job
Why have you given the intern these jobs? If there is a purpose for these tasks, then the intern can understand why it needs to be completed. It is more important to reach the end result and know what this means for a project, than get held up because of the method of carrying out this task.
9) Not establishing a clear line manager
Without a designated line manager, the intern’s jobs and achievements can be lost within the department and not recorded. Without this jobs can slip through the cracks and the intern’s day will fail to have a structure and purpose.
10) Forgetting to give any feedback
One of the best ways to learn is by being given feedback for your efforts. Make sure you give both good and bad feedback, because only then can your intern learn from both their successes and mistakes.
About the author
Rui Zamith is the co-founder of Internwise (www.internwise.co.uk) and is himself a former intern. Internwise is committed to partnering with businesses to offer a valuable resource to the local workforce.