Millennials, get a really bad rep for being lazy, entitled and not wanting to pay their dues. They enter into the workforce thinking they will land their “dream job” at 22 years old, but the cold hard realty is that those “dream jobs” require 3-5 years of experience, which they’re supposed to already have fresh out of college. But how are they supposed to get said experience when they aren’t getting internships because they’re too young and inexperienced…and when they do get the internships, they’re not actually learning anything?
Understanding this fact, we at MaxExposure, have hired interns as young as Freshmen, to give them the real world experience nobody else will at 18 years old. We find that by hiring younger students, and offering them room to grow into their positions that they will stay with the company longer, which looks incredible on a resume!
Working with over 20 students over the past 7 years, I’ve complied a a list of 10 tips on how to have a successful program.
- Treat them how you would want to be treated – This goes with out saying, but so many interns are treated poorly. They get stuck doing the “grunt work” nobody wants to do which doesn’t actually give them any experience, except that they don’t want to be the low man on the totem pole. Now I’m not saying don’t give them basic assignments, but on top of the basic assignments, let them grow and learn and take on projects that they want to work on!
- Give them REAL assignments – Give them assignments that you would do, give them real tasks so that they can learn how to research, compile data, use software systems and or manage customer accounts.
- Let them fail – This one sounds weird right? Why on earth would you want your intern to fail. I don’t want them to fail, but I want them to learn to think on their own and problem solve. I throw my interns into the deep end having only a few weeks of swimming lessons under their belts because I want them to learn how to not only tread water, but swim confidently. In the real world, you have to do this, and you won’t always have the opportunity to hand off the phone. I supervise and always ensure our customers are well taken care of, but I let them make mistakes so that they can learn to fix them.
- Teach don’t preach – Teach them how to do things, teach them to use your systems, and do what you do, as their boss, they are watching your every move, so if you just “take care of it” they will never learn how to do it themselves.
- Let them talk to your customers! – This one was tough for me at first, because I didn’t want them to mess up, sound young (and inexperienced) or be asked a question they couldn’t answer. But they (the interns) will ALWAYS prove you wrong. As of the last 2 years, I’ve let our interns talk to customers on a regular basis and its been an incredible experience for everyone involved!
- Let them share their ideas! – Interns are FRESH BLOOD! they have new ideas, they see the world differently and they aren’t jaded by life yet. Let them give you ideas or come up with new plans. In my experience some of their ideas have been the best changes we’ve made!
- Let them grow! – Let them take on new assignments or roles. If they have the hunger to learn how to do something new, don’t force them to stick to their assigned role. Make sure it’s clear they have to get their assignments done, but let them take on more if they want to, it will only help them become a better employee and you become a better boss!
- PAY THEM! – Internships, especially in the marketing world, can traditionally be unpaid. This is fine, if they’re getting enough experience to justify the lack of money. But if your budget allows it, PAY YOUR INTERNS. When they are being paid for their work, they will take more responsibility, work harder and be more accountable for the role they are in.
- Hire their friends – Now this one can be tricky, because you want them to focus on their job, not social hour, but if you find a good intern, ask them to share open positions to their friends, more often than not they surround themselves with similar caliber people.
- Make work fun! – “I’m not a regular boss, I’m a cool boss” – you don’t have to be their BEST FRIEND, and you should always establish boundaries as they do work for you, but keeping the work place fun is key to them coming back! These kids don’t HAVE to work, they choose to work, and while yes they are getting resume experience, you want to show them that working in an office doesn’t have to be a scene out of “Office Space” it can be enjoyable and fun given the right dynamic.