Universities recommend that their students, especially in the social science subjects, go for internship especially in their second or final year of study. This is because they are now begging to understand the field or subject and are preparing to see the practical side to all the theory they have done so far. Internship is the University’s way of giving their students hands on experience in their chosen field of study and exposing those students who have no work experience to the world of finding jobs, writing reports and several other activities that contribute to their appreciation of the subject and being part of a Company team .
In any company, every employee has a job description and therefore knows what to do. However, interns rarely have a job description in mind nor do they understand office dynamics unless they have been employed before. Imagine you have never been employed and you would like to have a feel of what a typical 8 to 5 job entails. You are likely to say that you are willing to do anything. For example, if the intern is studying Mass Communication, they are likely to say that they would like to work on writing, editing, presentation, public speaking and reporting. Since they have never been in a work related environment before, they think all these will be done in an hour or so.
As a person supervising an intern, it would be easier if you asked the intern what their field of study is, what their expectations are, how they hope to contribute to the company and especially how long they are going to intern for. The Company should also have guidelines as to how interns are handled. For example, what is the criterion for interning, the application process, a fee if applicable and what policies apply to them. Think about the level of access to information, security clearance, accountability (especially in relation to money) and period acceptable for an intern to be part of the company.
Ensure that the intern is exposed to as many of the office activities that are likely to help them in future. Look at it as training a future employee. While most recruiters do not count internship as experience gained, ensure that you lay a strong foundation for someone who will one day apply to come and work in that Company. After all, an intern has already done part of the job interview while working under your expert supervision.
Keep in mind that these are young people looking to impress you especially the undergraduate interns. Always remember what it was like during your first job and whether you had someone to guide you while you navigated the new environment of the corporate society. Make allowance for mistakes, although be strict about silly mistakes. Look at all their competencies beyond simply engaging them on their subject. For example, are they actually learning from this experience, do they arrive on time, do they adhere to the dress code, are they finding it easy to interact with the Company staff or are they shy.
Remember that if you train them well, and they are motivated enough to learn as much as possible, then you are contributing to a pool of future employees that suitable for the current job market.