Business Resources5 Tips to Have the Most Productive (and Awesome) Internship Program

Linnea Schulenburg
writes on April 4, 2016

It’s almost summer, and you know what that means. Soon you’ll be welcoming bright-eyed summer interns to your team!

An internship program is a great opportunity for them to get experience, but also a great opportunity for you to lay the groundwork for future recruiting and accomplish bigger team goals.  If you haven’t already, spend a little time thinking about your approach. After all, your interns and the teams they work with can only be as productive as you set them up to be.

So, take a moment and consider these 5 tips before you extend your summer intern offer letters next month.

1. Break the ice. Make sure you’ve set up an icebreaker event to let everyone introduce themselves.  A few fresh faces around the office and nice summer weather (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) can energize a whole team, especially if everyone is comfortable working together.

2. Set up a buddy system (and by buddy, I mean mentor). Managers should expect great work and monitor productivity, but you’ll get better work from someone that also feels engaged and valued. Manager-intern pairs should set up a weekly, 30 minute one-on-one meeting to briefly discuss how it’s going and set professional development goals.

3. Assign homework. That’s right, your interns don’t get a break from their homework this summer. Provide them with access to an online learning platform – like Treehouse – and set specific learning goals for them to reach BEFORE they show up for their first day. Focus their learning on problems you’re currently facing. Have you been needing to update your website? Have them take a course on how to make a website. Is your dev team working on a new mobile app? Task an intern with learning Android or iOS development to support them. Maybe your team could benefit from having certain reports pulled more regularly – assign your interns a few courses on querying databases. The opportunities are endless.

4. Challenge them. There’s nothing like a small dose of responsibility to help someone focus. Have your team brainstorm value-add projects (that don’t involve copies or coffee) before your intern program starts. A few days into their tenure, have interns choose a project they’re excited to work on. By taking them seriously out of the gate, they’ll feel like they have more to offer the team. The project gives them something to add to their portfolio, and gives you valuable projects completed by the end of the summer.

5. Don’t think of them as short-timers. Relegating your interns to short-timer status does nothing for your recruiting efforts. Treat them like a new employee, engage them in team discussions, and give them valuable work to do. At the end of a few months, you could be looking at a new employee who already understands how you work, knows your team, and  your business.

Add these 5 things to your to-do list now, and get ready for a productive summer at work! And who knows, maybe you’ll come out of the summer with a new full-time team member or, you know, a better website, a mobile app, or new tools to help your team.

What do you do to ensure the success of your intern programs and your interns?


To find out more about what Treehouse can do for your business (and your intern or apprenticeship programs) – check out Treehouse for Organizations.

One Response to “5 Tips to Have the Most Productive (and Awesome) Internship Program”

  1. Quite an insightful & interesting read on Internships…

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