Before the internship:

Hey, Mr/Ms Employer, take your responsibilities seriously! You have a fantastic opportunity to shape and nurture the talent of an enthusiastic, unique young person who is aching to learn from you. In return you are going to reap the rewards of all that potential for the good of your business and your customers.

Without giving proper attention to someone you’ve agreed to take on, you will get a disenchanted burden who will talk to 20 other people when they leave about how bad you are. Great marketing, isn’t it? Get it right by showing your genuine commitment to this young person’s future and bask in the glory when they tell 10 other people what a brilliant employer you are. It makes business sense. Develop, train, induct, brief your intern’s mentor so they are fully prepared for the job of nurturing them. Pick the right person and pay them!

During the internship:

Stretch your intern so they get maximum learning. Support them, coach and mentor them, find them opportunities. Hold regular reviews. Hold your intern’s mentor to account (and yes, that maybe yourself). Champion and celebrate your intern’s successes. Do what you would do with any of your other regular employees. Get to know them well. Respond to their ideas and take some calculated risks to let them have their head. Let them ask for help and see it as recognition of your investment in them. Give them feedback on what’s going well and not so well. Your mindset should be ‘how can I leverage their unique capabilities?’ not ‘what can I find for them to do?’

After the internship:

Get your intern to give YOU a testimonial, as well as one for them! Do an exit interview. Publicize it internally and externally. Get your intern to write up their experience, the good and the bad. Get your regular employees to give their feedback on the intern and share it with the intern. Offer them a job if it’s right for you both. If not, signpost them towards what they’re seeking or introduce them to your network. Help them learn to leap.

Interns – is that your experience?  Employers – does that sound like you?