3 Steps to Better Intern Management

Tuesday May 17th, 2016

intern-managementInternships are phenomenal opportunities for students to gain real-world insight into industry careers. Internships are coveted by employers due to minimizing financial expenses from wages and benefits while maximizing employee output. Internships are typically unpaid in terms of traditional reimbursement, but can provide a wealth of career knowledge for the individual interning.

Managing interns is similar to managing employees, with a few exceptions. Internships are often temporary, with a specified amount of time per internship. Internships could be as short as three months or as long as one year. In this set amount of time, an intern’s primary objective is to learn as much as possible about their responsibilities within their chosen career.

In order to make the most of an internship, proper training and development procedures must be implemented, as well as measurable goals and milestones for the intern. Using a talent management system such as iSolved allows you to manage employees and interns simultaneously.

Training & Development

As mentioned above, the purpose of an internship is to learn. Training and development is a critical part of helping your interns grow in their careers. Instead of giving your interns the projects that other employees avoid, provide your interns with meaningful assignments that will allow skills development.

In order to help interns be successful with their projects and assignments, be sure that the assignments have been thoroughly planned out before the internship starts. Just as a traditional employee will follow a job description with regards to their responsibilities within the organization, an intern will follow his or her assignment to successfully complete the internship.

The assignment should outline the intern's responsibilities within the organization, as well as provide opportunities for career development and skills training. Creating a structured description with quantifiable goals allows your intern to create value within the organization, as well as develop valuable career skills.

iSolved is a great tool for managing training and development for interns and employees alike. iSolved’s Talent Management features allow organizations to track meaningful employee performance information, including goal progress and strengths and weaknesses. Along with these performance determinants, interns will be able to gauge the progress of an assignment based on clear visibility to achievements and milestones.

HR Issues

As with traditional employees, internships come with traditional employment issues, such as tardiness, missed days, poor performance and more. The best way to minimize HR issues with interns is to keep an open line of communication with them. Interns can easily be forgotten, especially when the work they are performing is outstanding.

An intern may begin to feel overwhelmed with their current workload, which could manifest into a variety of issues for the intern and the organization. Keeping an open line of communication with your interns allows for a better understanding of any questions or concerns the intern might have, as well as any questions or concerns you might have for the intern.

Be sure to carve out time each week to meet with your interns to gauge their feelings about the work they are performing. They might feel overworked, or they might feel underutilized. Meeting with your interns for as little as 30 minutes per week can help you to identify issues within your organization that may be addressed, and it also helps interns to stay on target for a successfully completed internship.

Another aspect to consider when working with interns is your state’s legislation regarding interns and internships. The U.S. Department of Labor has established six (6) identifiers for internships that must be adhered to in order to be considered a legal internship. They are:

  1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
  2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
  4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
  5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

Following this federal legislation is a critical part of keeping your organization compliant with state and federal employment laws. As a talent management system, iSolved works to keep you compliant with any and all applicable employment laws, including those regarding unpaid internships. iSolved also tracks an intern or employees hours, which allows you to record days missed due to any circumstance.

Transitioning Past Internship

Once the internship comes to a close, you as an employer have two choices:

  1. Offer the intern a permanent position in the company; or
  2. Thank the intern for their hard work and dedication, and write a letter of recommendation.

The first option is a good choice for interns who have shown invaluable talent to the organization, and who can help your company continue to grow. It is important to note that an employer should not promise or hint at employment at the end of the internship if the employer does not fully intend to employ the intern. Failing to provide employment upon completion of an internship after promising employment counters the six laws regarding internships set into place by the Department of Labor, and could result in litigious circumstances for you and your organization.

The second option is preferable for employers who are not looking to hire an additional employee at this time, but have found that helping young professionals develop their skills and knowledge is beneficial for everyone involved. When writing a letter of recommendation for your interns, be sure to include information regarding their strengths, milestones, and abilities as a professional individual. Your recommendation will most likely help this intern to land a position in their field.

Managing interns doesn’t have to be a daunting task. iSolved takes the guesswork out of compliance and talent management by providing a comprehensive human capital management system that puts the Human back in human resources.