How to Not Be the ‘Bad Internship’

Every college student has one. The cringingly uncomfortable, self-esteem questioning, coffee-grabbing internship that breaks them into the working world. I really do believe that these kinds of internships are lessening by the day as companies begin to come to their senses and respect the college students they bring in to their business homes. But just to be sure we’ve all moved past the archaic coffee-order-dictating internship of the dark ages, here are three ways to make sure your business is not some poor college student’s "bad internship" experience.

1) PAY them!

Interns are not free labor! If you do not have the budget to hire an intern right now, then don’t hire one. It doesn’t have to be much, minimum wage or at least a gas compensation stipend are better than no pay at all. If you are paying your intern in exchange for their work, they’ll be more likely to put forward their best effort. Plus, providing decent pay allows you to be more selective in the hiring process. You’ll get more applicants for a paid internship, so you’ll get to pick the best from a bigger crop of candidates.

2) Criticize constructively.

We’ve seen too many movies with too many sad interns crying in their dingy apartments or privately in a back room after a day of being ripped apart at the office (The Devil Wears Prada, anyone?). Why do they put up with it? Because though their confidence and self esteem is lessening by the hour, they put their trust in your company and ultimately you to know what’s best.

I’m not saying to avoid constructive criticism altogether - you should most definitely be giving your intern feedback as they are here to learn. Just do so in an objective manner. It will be expected to receive a lot of feedback especially early on into the internship, but as time goes on, the notes will lessen and the intern will hopefully have taken all of your tips into consideration and become a better worker for it.

3) No "busy work" tasks.  

No coffee runs, no Laundromat pick-ups, and no excessive cleaning. If your business has previously survived without having someone pick up everyone breakfast every morning, then it can keep on surviving. However, if you have a typical breakfast pick-up rotation, by all means throw them in. Fair is fair. The goal is to make an intern feel like a part of the team, not below the team.