Lots of employers take on interns. Plenty of professionals will tell you the importance of a structured intern program. But sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the handling of day to day tasks. For most interns, this role is their first experience of the “real world” of their desired career path. It can be overwhelming, stressful, and completely new. This makes it crucial to recognize your interns when they do great work.
Whether positive or negative, feedback is necessary.
One of the signs of a successful internship program is constant feedback. There should be some type of schedule laid out for performance reviews or self-evaluation, and outlining tasks and goals. Of course, sometimes there is a need for constructive criticism. But don’t let that be all your intern hears from you! Positive reinforcement, while it seems trivial, goes a long way. Recognizing your intern when they succeed with an assignment or task can increase their morale and help them know they’re going in the right direction! Which leads to the next point.
Without recognition, interns could doubt the quality of their work.
If all you do is tell an intern what they can improve on, they’re never going to feel like they’re doing well in their role. Acknowledge the things they’re doing correctly, so they get a grasp on what they don’t have to change! Without positive reinforcement, an intern’s performance could potentially decline, when you’re trying to make it improve.
Interns actually have it pretty rough.
As each generation grows older, there seems to be a trend of diminishing the struggles of the new generation after them. The older generation scoffs at the newer, saying that they had it so much worse than the younger did. But all this really does is show a lack of empathy.
That’s not to say that I don’t acknowledge the struggles of today’s professionals. It can be exhausting. But I’m also in a position where it wasn’t too long ago that I was struggling as an intern, so I feel like I can empathize with both parties.
If an individual is interning with you during the school year, you should understand the intense workload they’re taking on. Going to college really is a full-time job. Remember that. So when an intern works for you and fulfills expectations of their role while taking classes, that’s impressive in itself. Even if they intern for you during the summer, they’re still discovering a brand-new experience in the workforce, trying to navigate a situation that’s completely unfamiliar, while trying not to make any mistakes. Don’t forget, if your intern is unpaid they’re likely put into a more financially strained position, and need to take on an additional job, or maybe multiple. That’s a lot for anyone to juggle.
When interns have all this stress weighing on them, a little acknowledgement of a job well done really does go a long way.
If you had an intern that went above and beyond during their internship, nominate them for Intern of the Year (college, high school, or non-traditional) for Indiana INTERNnet’s IMPACT Awards! You can also nominate for Intern Supervisor of the Year, Career Development Professional of the Year, and Employer of the Year (for-profit and non-profit)! Find the nomination form here. The deadline is October 31st, at 5 p.m. EST!