Why take on an intern?

Taking on an intern brings both an opportunity and a challenge to an employer.

Interns bring curiosity, fresh perspectives and ideas to your organisation. They will be up to date with the latest theory and have an understanding and recent practice of research techniques but may be lacking in the practical application.

Interns are motivated to work hard and prove themselves. They want to contribute in a meaningful way to your organisation as they themselves gain valuable work experience in their chosen field. They want to succeed.

Interns usually come with no encumbrances or bad work habits. They are trainable and open to an employer’s advice and guidance. Internships can provide a low risk way to build your talent pipeline while also contributing to wider workforce development.

The challenge for an employer is to provide a meaningful and substantive role or project while also providing a supportive and nurturing environment for the student to give of their best and to thrive in your workplace.

What is an intern?

Interns are typically students or recent graduates who are working in paid employment to gain experience in their field of study. Contracts are usually three to six months long but can be shorter or longer and may be fulltime or part time. Interns should be undertaking meaningful and challenging work for which they are paid. Interns should not be regarded as a source of free labour.

What influences interns' employment decisions

  • Having an approachable and consistent leader or mentor who is empathetic, available for a range of questions and is open-minded.

  • A supportive team and workplace where interns feel safe to ask questions and make mistakes as they learn on the job.

  • Having a buddy, someone who is near the intern’s age and is relatable has proven to be hugely successful as the intern’s feel there is someone who they can connect with and get support from on a social level.

  • Work which feels like the intern is making a contribution which is useful to the team, the company and the project.

  • Helping interns to understand where their work fits in to the business helps them feel like they are making a positive contribution to their workplace, allows them to see why their work is important and helps them to feel connected to other employees.

  • Interns who receive frequent feedback from their employers often show increased confidence in their abilities, higher levels of job satisfaction and better engagement with the tasks they are set.

  • Clearly describing the role and what the aim of the project is as a whole gives the intern a clear idea of what they are agreeing to and will improve their confidence in their ability to complete tasks.

  • Location can be a deciding factor for an intern. An intern may be entirely dependent on public transport and may not be able to accept a role if transport is not available.

The must-haves for a successful internship?

Clarity

Both you, the employer, and the intern need to have a clear understanding of what’s expected and be ‘on the same page’ before the internship begins. Communication is key.

Trust

A relationship based on trust will promote a good outcome. Interns appreciate a clearly defined, supported and meaningful role. Employers expect a good result from their investment. 

Pay

Interns provide value and should be paid. Budget for your intern and consider paying the living wage to be fair and equitable. 

This resource was designed and compiled by interns sourced through Summer of Tech 2017.