Managing Your Intern’s Expectations for a Successful Summer

Now that summer is on our doorstep, many PR agencies, large and small, are ready to welcome their summer interns into their mixes in just a couple of week.  Ah the anticipation of fresh faces coming with fresh ideas, expectations, and energy – ready to learn and get to work!

Starting off on the right foot with your interns is key to a successful summer (and possible fulltime hire if cards are dealt and played right), especially if expectations have not yet been discussed or set, which commonly happens due to the time lag between hire and start date.  So here is quick “To Do” list for you to follow to make sure that your interns are primed and ready to go to before they walk in the door to assist you with your summer projects and objectives:

1)      What Not To Wear: Notify your interns about your attire expectations and requirements BEFORE they start so they don’t come to work over or under-dressed. What is appropriate summer attire for your office (i.e., flip flops, dresses, shorts)? Also, on pitch days, do they need to step up their attire and, if so, what should they wear. Your interns don’t know and need to so let them know before they start to avoid embarrassment or an awkward conversation in the future.

2)      When Do We Eat: Be clear with them about their lunch hour and when it can/should be taken. Interns need to know if you care or not and what your lunchtime etiquette policy is.

3)      Can You Hear Me Now: What’s your cell phone policy?  Should they be shut off the minute they walk in the door or silenced? Can they take/make personal calls at work or only during breaks? Again, interns are new to the work scene so clarity on cell use is a good thing.

4)      Socializing on Social: What’s your social media policy?  Interns need to be told if they can be on social media during business hours and/or during their lunches and breaks, especially if it is not part of their daily work. If social is part of their responsibilities, be clear about where they should and should not be on social during business hours and what their participation should be.

5)      Time is Money: Clearly define their hours, start and end time, start and end dates, and your policy on promptness. If your staff functions on flex time, then it’s important for interns to know if they are part of that policy or not and what your expectations are about their hours.

6)      Money is Money: You need to tell them when and how they will be paid before they start so there is no ambiguity or misunderstanding about frequency or method of delivery of their pay.

7)      I Give You Credit: If you require your intern to do their internship for credit, you need to notify your interns ASAP as they will need to obtain the credit from their college/university before they start; this usually entails getting the internship approved by a faculty advisor and enrolling in a summer course which can take time.  If your intern has already been notified about needing credit, make sure you have the proper paperwork and documentation before the internship starts from your intern so you know the deliverables you will be required to make throughout and at the end of the summer and your intern can obtain their credit.

8)      Set the Table: Try to clarify learning and work objectives for your intern – what will they be doing day to day for you and what would you like for them to bring to the table. Ideas, strategy, creativity – discuss with them how they can help you as well as how they can get the most out of their experience with your organization.

Alyssa Hammond is Senior Associate Director, Undergraduate Career Services & Adjunct Professor, Information Design/Corporate Communications Dept. at Bentley University.

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