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Experiencing The True Value of Your Intern

Posted by Rod Danan | Jul 13, 2020

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Moving into month two of the internship is an exciting time. This is when you start to see the true performance of your intern and get a better idea of how they might fit with your team long-term. That's why many of the tips below can be applied to the early days of any employee. Nevertheless, let's keep things on track.

Review and Plan

With the first test project wrapped up - or close to it - you should have a better idea of who your intern is. This includes how quickly they work, what excites them most, what type of issues hold them up, and more. Use that to plan the next stage.

Your business obviously has immediate needs - such is life in a startup - however, the more you set up the intern for success, the more benefits your business will get. 

For example, if during month one, your intern had this idea they were excited about that could make your product better, give it a second look. They would be pumped to see their idea implemented. 

Another example is identifying a process that didn't work so well in round one. Maybe getting answers to questions or access to certain files was happening too slow. You could benefit by setting up an internal knowledge base, using a different project management app, or creating a cloud folder with important files.

Don't just rely on your observations. Have a conversation with your intern. You should already be having at least a 1-on-1 meeting and two hours of mentoring each week. Utilize that time to hear your intern out on what you can do to help them out. Even the best-run companies will be able to find something out.

The Part-Time Employee

Now for the actual work, make the transition to considering your intern an employee. Other than the 20-hour cap of work per week and two hours of mentoring, there should not be much difference now in terms of how you manage them.

If you are using sprints, then assign your intern meaningful work that aligns with the amount of time they can actually spend each week. Broken down, this means to assign them to work on tasks your business needs done but set realistic deadlines given their time commitment. 

That new feature that a full-time employee would build in two weeks, give the intern at least four weeks. That dataset you need to be cleaned to proceed with your model in two weeks might be better to clean yourself. That redesign that will take 60 hours should be expected in three weeks not tomorrow.

In addition, even though your intern is a quick learner, they are still learning. Advanced and specialized projects will require some research to be done effectively. Some of that learning will be through Google. Some of that will be through your mentoring. All of it helps your company long-term as long as you support it.

Do not be frightened by the above. Your intern will contribute meaningful work to advance your business but we just want to make sure expectations are aligned properly. We still expect you to be pleasantly surprised by how much you love having your intern around.

Thinking About The Future

Towards the end of this second stage of the internship, start thinking about the future. Does your intern fit well with your team? Do you enjoy working with them? If so, you might want to keep them around.

Teaching an employee to truly understand your business and customers takes time which you have just invested. The best way to capitalize on that investment of time is to convert an intern to a full-time employee. That way you will get double what you have been out of that person.

You are expected to decide on this by the beginning of the third month as part of the Prentus program. This allows us to help your company with the transition of the intern to an employee or to get your next intern if you choose not to proceed. Whatever your decision, we are here.

Summary

We hope you have a fruitful month 2 and look forward to helping you wrap up the internship with part 4 of the Internship Handbook.

  1. Review and Plan
    1. Optimize processes based on last month
    2. Put your intern in position to succeed
    3. Continue to keep open communication with your intern
  2. The Part-Time Employee
    1. Adjust deadlines for the 20-hour per week schedule
    2. Support the continued learning
    3. Intern will still give real contributions to team
  3. Thinking About The Future
    1. Start having a conversation about intern long-term
    2. Consider the onboarding time investment
    3. Be prepared to decide in the beginning of the third month

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