Creating a Positive Summer Intern Culture

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The sun is out and our calendars are turned to June, which can only mean one thing… it’s summer intern season!  While it might be tempting to pass off the coffee orders to your summer interns, you should think twice before creating a subpar intern culture in your office.

When Collegefeed asked 15,000 college students and recent graduates about their most important considerations when choosing future employers, “People and culture fit” came out on top. Therefore, if your goal is to hire the strongest talent out of college, you need to create an environment where summer interns participate in the company culture, and feel comfortable, confident, and valued throughout the term.

Tips for Creating a Positive Summer Intern Culture

Create roles for interns that allow them to do more than just general office busywork. Interns are looking for a company that is going to offer them a worthwhile experience to help them start their careers. If you hand them the same menial tasks day after day with no exposure to enrichment opportunities, they are going to feel frustrated and disrespected. Further, they certainly aren’t going to go telling their friends about the awesome work environment and the innovative company that they worked for all summer. Provide them with an opportunity to learn about their future career and develop valuable skills.

Give interns a warm welcome and a meaningful farewell. There’s nothing more awkward than walking into an office feeling like an imposter. Notify the team about the summer interns and their role, and encourage everyone to make them feel welcomed. Similarly, when it comes time to say goodbye, make sure the intern knows that their contributions were appreciated.

Set up a mentorship program for your summer interns. Take the time to gain a general understanding about the interns’ future goals and ambitions. For example, if you have an intern who would love to be a graphic designer, then provide them with a mentor from your company’s graphics department. According to career expert Heather R. Huhman, this allows them to connect with someone in your company on a personal level and continue their education throughout the summer.

Pay your interns as fairly as possible. Whether you offer them an hourly rate or a stipend for the summer, San Jose State University notes that your interns will appreciate the fact that they are earning an income while also gaining the valuable experience that they need to kick start their careers. When creating a pay scale for your internship program, be sure to refer to the Fair Labor Standards Act. Most for-profit companies must adhere to the guidelines put in place by this act, but some nonprofit organizations may be exempt and can offer unpaid internships.

Make sure your interns feel like a part of your company, even if they are only going to be with you for a few months. If there are any ongoing team projects, integrate the intern into a team. This gives them the chance to contribute their own opinions and insights and to build their professional portfolio. Additionally, create opportunities for interns to meet and interact with upper management. This can come in the form of team building events, committee participation, or side projects.

By focusing on your workplace culture this summer and designing a premier internship program, your company will be more likely to attract top talent in the future. So skip the lunch orders and the paper filing this summer, and instead focus on creating a valuable, exciting, and positive program for your interns.

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