Not too long ago I was sitting in the intern hot-seat, following the lead of my managers and allowing my brain to act like a sponge, trying to learn everything and anything. I have had managers that were effective and successful at communicating and I have had managers that were not great at communicating, with their interns at least.
Recently, the roles were reversed and now I am managing a PR intern. Because of my experiences, it was easy to identify communication and managing styles that I found effective and also greatly appreciated as an intern.
The task of managing an intern can be a challenge but by establishing expectations, keeping lines of communication open and giving thorough directions, you will be well on your way to establishing the mutually beneficial internship program.
- Establish expectations. This can be done as early as the interview process. Explain clearly what your company needs from an intern and listen to what candidates are interested in and the experiences they are hoping to leave with. If your needs and their goals match up, then the program is off to a great start.
- Keep lines of communication open. Your intern needs to feel comfortable asking questions; especially if it deals with work they have been assigned. Not only must an intern be comfortable coming to you, but as a manager you must be comfortable giving constructive feedback. Remember that interns are looking for mentors, people that are going to guide them in the right direction and help them prepare for the real world.
- Thorough directions. Look, interns are not mind readers. Make sure you thoroughly explain every aspect of what you need the project to include, down to basic formatting. It may take some extra time to explain, but in the end its better than having only half of the project because you were not clear. Spending this extra time will also alleviate any frustrations the intern may feel after spending time on an assignment to find out they must redo it.
Although these may seem like basic principles you would be surprised at the amount of managers who disregard them. Also, managing an intern is priceless experience prepping you for a possible management position in the future.
Lindsay Bues currently serves as Public Relations Coordinator at Philabundance, the Delaware Valley’s largest hunger relief organization. As PR Coordinator, Lindsay is responsible for expanding relationships with regional media and increasing Philabundance’s visibility throughout the region. She recently graduated from Temple University with a degree in Strategic and Organizational Communication in 2009. While at Temple, Lindsay served as chapter president of Temple’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA).