With a new year upon us, now is the time many college students start exploring summer internship possibilities. Summer internships are a great way for university students to learn about potential career fields and gain valuable work experience. Internships can also have a positive impact on companies by tapping into the next generation of the workforce. University students can bring fresh perspectives to your company. In addition, interns typically have an eagerness to learn and engage and are a cost-effective alternative to a full-time employee.
That said, for some companies, interns may not be the best fit. Also, it takes time and energy to cultivate a mutually beneficial relationship between the intern and the company. This is why it is important to think carefully when deciding if an intern is right for you and your company.
Over the years, we have had several interns at Digital Aptitude. Through these experiences, we have learned many things about the process. Here is our guide to determining if you want/need an intern and how to get the most out of that intern if you do decide to pull the trigger.

Questions to ask before committing to an intern

Is there enough work for the intern to do?

If there is not enough work realistically tackle with his or her skill set, your company may not be a good fit for an intern.

Who will supervise the intern?

Someone within your company will need to be able to oversee the intern, assign tasks/projects, provide feedback, and answer questions.

How long will the internship last?

Many students are looking for internships that last all summer; however, you can vary this time by having project-specific internships.

Will you pay the intern?

If it is an unpaid internship, there are specific requirements that must be met. Check with your state for information on these requirements.

What specific tasks/projects can you assign to the intern?

It is important to think through what your intern will do at your company. You do not want your intern sitting around with nothing to work on. This does not help your company achieve its goals and does not give the intern the experience he or she is seeking.

How will the intern fit your company culture?

Interns can have a really positive impact on culture if your company likes to mentor and teach; however, an intern can feel out of place if the culture is more rigid.

Can you help the intern achieve his or her goals by interning at your company?

Remember that it must be a mutually beneficial relationship between both company and intern.

Tips for getting the most out of your intern

Set clear goals for the internship

Sit down with your intern and ask what he or she wants to get out of the internship. What is he interested in? What does he want to gain experience in? What is he most excited about? What is he least excited about? What is his/her current skill set and level of knowledge?
By having a clear understanding of the motivations of your intern, you can make sure to create a plan that helps the intern achieve his or her goals while also contributing to your company’s objectives.

Develop a clear job description

It is important to have a plan in place for your intern. You want to lay out clear expectations of what your intern will be doing for the duration of the internship. Will the intern have a variety of tasks or a large project to accomplish? Will they sit in on meetings and conference calls? Will they get coffee and clean the office in addition to their other tasks? These questions need to be answered and documented so the intern’s supervisor can measure success and provide constant feedback. Speaking of which…

Provide constant feedback

Internships are about learning and growing. It is important for your intern to know where he or she needs to improve and where things are going well. Constant feedback allows your intern to adapt and improve.

Measure success

By laying out clear objectives in the beginning of an internship, you will be able to measure success. Have a meeting with your intern and discuss his or her performance at the end of the internship. Offer feedback as well as praise. Make sure your intern knows how he or she performed.
If your intern exceeded your expectations, offer to stay in contact as s/he finishes her/his education. Interns can be a great way to find new potential hires. Interns understand your company as you were able to train them at a fraction of the cost of a new hire. You also know the intern’s work ethic and knowledge of the industry. This can be an extreme asset to your company in the future.
Our interns at Digital Aptitude have had a positive impact on our company. Not only did they bring fresh and unique perspectives, they also gained valuable experiences in learning about the marketing world. We hope that you have a great experience with your intern(s), as well.
If you have any additional advice to add, please leave a comment below.