Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Five Ways to Make Sure Your Intern Never Wants to Leave

Melody Rowell | 2012
Today was my last day as a PR intern for Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The past eight weeks were such a productive, valuable, and uplifting experience; I'm so grateful for the opportunity and for the wonderful people I got to know.

And so, here are five ways to ensure that your intern leaves your place of work oozing the same sentimentality I feel tonight.

1. Make sure the job description you posted matches up with what your intern will actually be doing. With Kauffman Center, I knew exactly what I was getting into. No assignment seemed out of place with the objectives of the internship that I agreed to.

2. Give your interns valuable assignments. If they aren't getting paid, don't add insult to injury by giving them the crappy jobs that no one else wants to do. My supervisor at Kauffman Center entrusted me with several meaty projects that will be visible to the public, which gave me even more motivation to perform well.

3. Include your intern in the office's culture. My supervisor did a great job of introducing me to other staff members and involving me in events. Everyone I met seemed genuinely glad that I was there, and approximately 98% of them used the phrase "Welcome aboard!" Make sure your intern knows that in the real world, office friendships can and do extend beyond business hours.

4. Get feedback from your intern before the term is over. Halfway through my stint, my supervisor sat me down and asked me to evaluate my experience thus far. What did I enjoy? What took me by surprise? What did I want to do more/less of in my remaining time? A short conference like this makes your intern feel that this unpaid gig is a productive use of time. I put in a lot of work and felt like I got a lot out of it-- which made me want to put in even more work.

5. If you can't offer your intern a job at the end of the term, put in some effort to aid in networking, to help prepare resumes and cover letters, and to impart general career advice. It meant a great deal to me that several of the women I worked with invested hours in helping me with all three of those things. After eight weeks, I have new skills, new confidence, new contacts, and best (cheesiest) of all, new friendships.

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