What I Learnt From Managing Interns

By: Elijah Mendonca Wednesday May 31, 2017 comments Tags: intern, business management , time management

All of my previous management experience had come from college jobs - where I was in charge of people who were already self motivated, had goals in mind, and wanted to be their best all the time. Overall, this made my job easy, and I mostly served as a mediator and producer - making sure deadlines were met and the team functioned smoothly. Individuals within the team were left to their autonomous ways and it always worked out.

Interns on the other hand, are a different experience. Here are my takeaways after having managed some of my own:

1) Deadlines

Before everything else, ensure that your interns know they have to stick to the deadlines you give them. This is also a two way street: you can't enforce something that you aren't going to follow up on. If you slack on your end and don't check in on time, they won't take you seriously. 

2) Check in frequently

If you want something done in an hour, check in at 30 minutes. Maybe even check in every thirty minutes if the task is of a longer nature or you'd like to see your intern's progress in smaller increments. Checking in a lot might seem like an annoyance to you at first, but it'll actually keep both of you on track. Communication is a big secret of efficiency that no one seems to value quite enough.

3) Make sure they're always learning something

Mundane tasks are usually a waste of both your time and the intern's. After all, they are with you because they have a desire to know more, and if you feed that hunger, you'll find that you have a happier, more productive worker. Ask them what they'd like to learn about, and if it's within your power, help them achieve it. Also have them try tasks outside of their comfort zones - you may end up helping them discover a new talent or interest!

4) Set expectations

I've had an intern who thought his work hours were flexible due to the nature of his position. These terms were not previously discussed or agreed upon when he was being employed, leading to a lot of hassle later on when he would frequently leave early for the day. All throughout the hiring process, make sure they've understood the terms and conditions of their job, and what you require from them in order to have a beneficial, symbiotic relationship. Interns should be aware of what they can and cannot do from before day one.

5) Push their limits

Interns can be powerhouses, or they can still be finding their way around their own work ethic. Try pushing their limits. If you know something takes two hours, give them an hour and a half. See how they shine under pressure and once you're done pushing them, explain why you did so - they must understand that it's being used to make them a more efficient, valued worker. Otherwise they'll just end up resenting you if you push them all the time.

6) Bond a little

Get to know them as you would anyone else in your office. Just because they aren't there forever doesn't mean you can't make friends with them. In fact, camraderie will boost their self esteem, make them feel welcomed, and likely positively affect the work they put out as well. Aren't you more willing to please someone you like?

7) Ask for their feedback

Your intern is not the only one that could do with improvement - you can too! And what better way to judge your managerial skills than by asking the very people you've been managing? This is one trait that will earn you a lot of brownie points with your team. It shows that you're willing to accept constructive criticism and make changes in areas you deem applicable. Just because you have a quality they might not like doesn't mean you have to change it, but at least take it into consideration and understand your own reasoning for employing that method of management - if you feel so inclined, explain your reasoning to your intern.

Elijah Mendonca

About the Author: Elijah Mendonca

Usually going by "Shiva Mendonca" or "the coolest guy ever," Elijah is an Interactive Media Design: Video Game Design graduate from Becker College, MA. Having moved to Fort Collins, CO on a whim after graduation, he spends his free time sleeping, eating, writing, exploring the natural beauty of Colorado, eating, and sleeping (in that order).

His other interests include listening to music (metal), rock climbing, crossword puzzles, playing squash, swimming, hiking, and cycling. Read more of his work on the facebook page Shiva Mendonca - Author.

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