Overloaded at Work? This is When You Need an Intern
Career Growth

Need an Intern? Here's When It's Time

by Jaclynn Knecht
Photos Lynette Boyle | October 27, 2015

These days, there seem to be interns on every floor of every office. But to make it a great experience for everyone, what should you consider before taking one on?

Internships have become a mainstay in everyday American work culture. Most colleges require them as a prerequisite for graduation, and most employers take them into consideration when making hiring decisions. But what should you consider before deciding to host an intern in your office, department, or company?

If you're considering whether it's time, keep the following things in mind:

GO FOR THE INTERN IF:

  • You have something to teach them that will benefit their future employment options
  • You're willing to take on the responsibility of supervising someone—remember that's especially a commitment if that person is new to the workforce
  • You have enough work to keep everyone busy

YOU DON'T NEED ONE IF: 

  • You don't have anything to teach them
  • You're not comfortable delegating projects or sharing your workload
  • You not a personable supervisor or you hate answering (many) questions
  • You're simply looking for someone to run errands

If you’ve decided that now is not the right time, or you're not (yet) willing to take responsibility for helping shape an intern’s employment landscape, you should probably stop here. But if you feel like you’re more than ready to tackle hosting an intern, the next step is to prove to your colleagues that this move would benefit them as well.

HOW TO CONVINCE YOUR BOSS (OR TEAM) IT'S TIME

  • Offer to take on the role of Internship Coordinator from selection to completion.
  • Highlight the ways in which the department could benefit from having an intern in the office. Some of these may include lightened workloads, positive outreach for educational partnerships, great publicity, etc.
  • Emphasize that an intern's presence won't impact the quality of your own work, but rather add to the degree to which the department’s goals are met.
  • Focus on the fact that, depending on the specialty of your team or department, hosting an intern could generate a larger applicant pool for positions that become available in the future, allowing the company to retain in-house talent.
There are two qualities that you should always look for in an intern: an interest and passion for the type of work you’re doing and a willingness to learn.

FINDING THE SUPER-INTERN

If your boss and team are on board with the idea of hosting an intern, your next questions should be:

What/Who should I be looking for? 

It is up to you (and your team) to decide what specifications you want to make on accepting applications. The great thing about internship applicants is that they really can come from all different backgrounds. Regardless of age, education or work experience, there are two qualities that you should always look for in an intern: an interest and passion for the type of work you’re doing and a willingness to learn.

You may be surprised at how quickly an intern decides that they're no longer interested in a specific career path, after completing their tenure with a company. Now more than ever, internships are used to gain footing inside of a company or industry, and also as a canceling agent for college students choosing a course of study (and career).

There's no guarantee that hosting an intern will be a success every time, but if you’re willing to play an active role in participating in someone’s employment experience, chances are good you'll both benefit.

* * *

Do you have suggestions on what anyone considering hosting an intern should take into account?