How to Get the Best from Your Interns

Ash brought her social media savvy to Softchoice’s Corporate Marketing department this past summer.

If the stories I’ve heard on internships are true, then the history has not been very bright. Often interns are given the menial tasks: they’re relegated to being photocopy robots, coffee runners and errand gofers. They are expected to keep quiet during important meetings and just nod and agree. Oh wait…they are rarely invited to participate in those meetings in the first place.

When I first applied for my internship at Softchoice, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But the first time I walked through the doors for my interview, I immediately felt at home. The friendliness of the people…and the dogs (yes, there are quite a few pooches roaming the halls!) was unbelievable. I want to share what made it so memorable. It may help break the cycle of those organizations still perpetuating the internship horror stories.

  1. Feedback. Feedback. Feedback.  The most valuable part of my internship was the one-on-one time I had with my direct supervisor and more senior managers in the company. The instant and ongoing feedback was why I learned so much in such a short period of time. Plus, our weekly one-on-one meetings kept the lines of communication open. At any given time, I knew where I was doing well, and of course, where I could do even better.
  2. Mentorship Goes a Long Way. It was also priceless for me to have co-workers I looked to as mentors. People who offered to let me pick their brains about their experiences, ideas and thoughts. Unfortunately, many interns don’t have mentors early on in their career. It’s only through our internships that we are introduced to people who can help guide us on our career path. If you are in a higher position, I would encourage to you think of how you can offer this support. It’s important to help us baby birds so that one day we can fly with confidence!
  3. Have a Little Faith…In Me. If you can put trust in your interns, they will do everything to do the best job possible. Encouragement from my team to speak up and take ownership for projects (though it took me time to realize this) got me that much more excited about my work! Interns often feel under-qualified and not sure where to add value. But a meaty project, some friendly encouragement and coaching will go a long way in developing and honing their skills. It’ll draw out the best they have to offer so that your company has a high performing contributor on their hands.
  4. I’m Not a Piece of Office Furniture. I may only be there for four months but I’m still part of the team! We feel like outsiders from the get go, so it’s important to make us feel welcome. Encourage interns to participate. It may seem small, but it goes a long way. I always appreciated when my marketing teammates invited me to team lunches and after work events. It made the adjustment time that much shorter. Soon I felt like I’d been part of the team for ages. They even looked to what I was good at outside of work and asked me to DJ a company event!

Is your organization offering your interns this type of experience? You may not be able to get dogs into your office, but you can still make the experience one to remember! All you need to do is consider the simple things that help foster confident, contributing future leaders.

Ash Aujla – Communications Intern – Corporate Marketing

About Ash Aujla

As a Marketing & Communications Specialist intern for Softchoice, Ash is responsible for providing support in social media optimization as well contributing to both internal and external communications projects.