Best Practices for Managing Interns in 2021

Whether remote or in-person, managing interns is presenting new challenges for companies. Here's how to create the most engaging experience.

December 17, 2020

The value of personal connection in the workplace is more important than ever. The disconnect between interns and managers due to the global pandemic has made building personal connections a greater challenge. Interns can struggle with productivity and goal-setting, and managers can struggle with progress-tracking and clearly communicating with remote interns. Finally, we understand the difficulty of productivity, goal-setting, and progress-tracking that comes from remote internships, with no one to physically check in and give feedback.

To prevent intern disconnect and ambiguous internship goals, we have outlined below 3 important features that managers should consider using to manage interns, both remotely and when in the office.

1. Intern/Team Introductions

All managers should take time at the beginning of their internship programs for interns to introduce themselves over a team meeting or through the creation of some video introduction. Team members have valuable information about their work experience and career advice to share with interns who are on the way to their full-time professional careers. Additionally, managers should administer ice-breaker questionnaires to interns to gather insight on their personality, leadership style, communication preferences, etc., to make work more smooth and enjoyable for both parties. Interns will value getting to know the team, making personal connections, and feeling respected by their managers taking the time to get to know them as well.

2. Project Task-Management and Feedback

A huge obstacle to internship programs can be understanding expectations for an individual task. Having a management system in place for interns to get continual feedback and let managers know what amount and type of work they have completed can be revolutionary for intern productivity and feelings of personal connectedness to the internship and individual progress. With continual manager feedback and a way to view the progress they have made, interns will feel empowered to ask questions as they progress on their projects and work toward that 100% completion. Less time will be wasted wondering about uncertainties if these systems are in place. Managers can assign individual tasks within the project and check to see if interns have met their goal, reducing uncertainty. Clear goals and manager feedback are essential with or without remote work to achieve the desired end product.

3. Reward Interns for Skills They Earn

Having an internship management software to track what skills interns have learned and events they have attended will benefit both managers and interns. At the end of the internship program, managers can evaluate intern performance by the number of skill badges earned and assess interns’ specific focuses and talents by type of skills earned. They will be able to access this data later on when they need to contact these former interns for open positions. Interns will conclude the program having a clear idea of what they worked on, what they succeeded at, and where they focused their time and energy and can use this information in future applications and interviews.

Most importantly, work is about people. Intern managers should focus on respecting their interns and giving them a positive environment, and interns should focus on reciprocating that respect. Success will come from understanding, good communication, and goal-setting, and respect.