6+1 tips for planning a successful internship

Petru Barbara

Petru Barbara

I’ve been on internships where I’ve made coffee and I’ve been on internships where I’ve got stuck with tasks and couldn’t get help. But I’ve also been in ones where I’ve been constantly involved and I felt like a real part of the team. We were all interns at one time or another but only a  few of us can say we were lucky to be in a good place. But why is that?

Do many people just want the document? A task to tick off? So, what about those who really want to learn and get a job in their profession?

I’ve drawn some conclusions from our past internship programs, and I think these will be tips that can provide a solid base for managing such an activity.

1. Plan precisely!

Before you start anything, you need to answer a few questions:

  • – What are the objectives of the internship program?
  • – How long will it last?
  • – How many interns will there be?
  • – What are the main activities they will do?
  • – Who will be their mentor?

Without planning, you can’t get anywhere. I speak from experience.

2. The intern should be a part of the team.

The best way for an intern to complete tasks is to feel like being a part of your team.

Involve them in the company’s structures and rules, let them get to know the staff and become part of the team for those few weeks. So, what’s the payoff?

  • – They learn to work in a team.
  • – It’s easier to respect each other.
  • – They form a coherent idea of what it’s like to work for your company.
  • – It helps you manage their tasks more effectively.

3. Find a mentor!

Each internship program requires at least one mentor. A responsible person, who interns can contact if they need help. This is usually the person who also plans the program, as they need to be clear on all the steps and tasks.

What happens if there is no mentor? Chaos. Like really. Interns will be “handed off” from one colleague to another. Yes, that’s the “we made coffee all month” type of internship. The mentor is the spine of the internship program, a stable and available specialist.

4. Make diverse tasks!

An internship program is a perfect opportunity to try out different activities. For example, our interns in a month learn to shoot and edit videos, create communication plans, manage social media platforms, write text for websites, posts, blogs and make graphic design. I may have left out something, but you get the idea.

If they like creative work, they can feel free to try themselves in several fields and then decide what they really want to get professional at. These are tasks that each company chooses for itself.

5. Teach and practice!

Most internship programs throw interns straight into the deep water, saying that “practice leads to success”. Sometimes this does work, but it tends to work better if the interns already have some minimal knowledge in the field.

If you really want to teach, don’t forget theory is important. Teach them how you work, how you solve problems, where you get your inspiration from. This is all part of the learning process. If the theory is present, the practice will be much easier. The mentor will also have less need to correct the work and the interns’ confidence will be boosted by experiencing success.

6. Give feedback!

This advice is for every leader, colleague, mentor, neighbor, everyone. Positive feedback is a necessity. We live in a society where we only tell others when something is wrong, and compliments are usually left out.

Just think, if an internship lasts for a month, how much can happen in that time?

An internship program is complex enough, it needs to be evaluated, and all the good and bad things must be summarized. If somebody has done a good job? We must give them recognition, we have to motivate them. If someone makes a mistake? We suggest a solution. Kind words are worth more than scolding.

+1 Learn from them!

If you are open to learning from others, you will be able to grow professionally and personally.

I have to admit that I always have a lot to learn as a professional. The best part is that I can learn from anyone. As a mentor, I learn as much from the interns as they learn from me.

Personally, I have really enjoyed our internship program as a mentor and I look forward to the next one. Here are our four interns from the 2022 Autumn program who have made amazing progress in just one month. Thank you guys, you are awesome!

Tell us your ideas! What tips do you have for planning an internship program?

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