With all interns being on different schedules and different executive team members managing those interns, it can be difficult to keep up with everyone’s workload and questions. This semester we started hosting a mandatory call on Fridays (we all work remotely) to make sure we stayed on top of our program. With the theme of all internship programs in 2015 needing to be structure – I found this weekly call a crucial part of our internship strategy. It also helped my team remember that interns are a priority. Host a mandatory call once per week (preferably at the end of the week) during summer internship season (or any internship season) with everyone on your team who touches the internship program. Every executive makes themselves available for other meetings, there is no reason they cannot try to make themselves available for this meeting. These meetings can be held department wise or company wise – based on the size of your team. If your internship is virtual, these can be conference calls. If your internship is actually in an office space, these should be meetings. Executives who are out of the office can dial into the meeting. The purpose of these calls is to identify three things:
1. What did the interns accomplish over the course of the week? Give all of the interns 2-3 minutes to share information on what projects they worked on, which executives they worked with, and what tasks they accomplished over the course of the week. When you have a team that’s larger than one or two executives, you often lose sight of what the interns are working on. This call is an opportunity for the entire team to understand what the interns are capable of and what they are working on.
2. What did the interns enjoy the most and what do they want to do more of? Ask all of the interns to identify their favorite project of the week. It’s always interesting to hear what the interns like to do versus what the executives believe they like to do. The tasks that I think our interns dislike the most usually end up being the tasks they enjoy the most. Hearing what the interns enjoy and encouraging them to identify what they want to do more of, helps the employer identify new opportunities for the interns and cater certain tasks to certain students.
3. What questions do the interns have? Often times, students are embarrassed to ask questions. In a fast-paced environment, in can be overwhelming to ask questions when everyone around you seems so busy. This call is an environment where students can ask any questions they’d like about any assignments they might have.
Use the Call for Evaluations
Over the course of the internship, I suggest each employer conduct three evaluations. One evaluation at the two-week point, another mid-way through the internship, and one final evaluation at the end of the internship. If you already have regular calls in the calendar with everyone involved in the internship equation at your company, you can use this time to do the evaluations. In order to save time, I recommend giving the students collective feedback. If you must have private conversations with certain students, you can schedule those separately. During these calls, you don’t need to call out specific names and the corresponding feedback for that person, you can just give collective feedback. I encourage internship coordinator’s to reach out to executive team members who also work with interns one week before these calls and ask them to submit any feedback for the students before the call. This way all of the feedback comes from one-person and it’s all given in one unified voice.
Use the Call for Mentor Moments
Throughout the course of the internship, I assign three calls at random (one is always the last call) as opportunities for “mentor moments”. We’d email the students two days prior to the call and tell them that they will have the opportunity to ask one executive one question on the call about their professional career, business goals, position, or personal history. The students enjoy these calls and the feedback we’ve received on this is that it’s an opportunity to really get to know the executives beyond the day-to-day office communications.