You might question this by saying “Interns are only around for six months, at the most. Why put all this effort into finding ‘the right one?’” To which I would say that you’re correct: an intern is typically only around for the length of a semester or maybe a little longer—which is why you should seek to maximize the time they spend working. Some ways you can do that are by rigorously searching and use all of your available tools to find someone who needs minimal training and can get up to speed quickly.
Internships are critically important for college students. For many of them, an internship is their first experience in the working world beyond customer service jobs. An internship helps shape college students into the future of the American workforce, allowing them to network, develop flexible skills, and learn important office soft skills like interpersonal communication.
Despite how many companies tend to use them, interns have much better uses than just fetching coffee or doing menial data entry. Sure, part of the benefit of having an intern or several is to have someone who can take on some of the essential tasks that, frankly, nobody else wants to do, but first and foremost they are there as part of their education and they deserve the opportunity to learn. One way to help them do that is to find someone who brings essential skills with them and can fly through the rudimentary job training to perform more meaningful tasks.
Every employee brings something unique to the role they’re hired for, whether the employer knows it or not—and, sadly, often the answer is “not”.
Just like a pre-hire assessment can help to illuminate special skills in candidates, it can do the same with interns. Even though most interns are only with your company for a short while, the external experience they bring to your workplace could be something you are able to utilize for years to come.
I often tell this story, but I think it’s fitting here. I once had an employee who was very clearly dissatisfied with her role. I see value in all of my staff and view letting somebody go as an absolute last resort, so I took a look through the pre-hire assessment she filled out during her application process and found that she had an interest in graphic design. I offered her the opportunity to incorporate putting together a weekly newsletter into her tasks, which she accepted, and this one, simple thing was the solution to the problem.
When supplied with a task she enjoyed and thought she could excel at, her work ethic on the whole improved and she became a more engaged and fulfilled worker while providing more value to the organization.
A New Perspective
Interns from low-income areas and different ethnicities or backgrounds offer a perspective that is sadly missing from corporate America because they rarely find those doors open to them. This is the same argument I’ve made for why assessments should be a replacement for resumes in the hiring process: when you see someone boiled down to a single piece of paper, you lose the ability to wonder what else they weren’t telling you.
In some instances, a resume could be deceiving and make a candidate seem more qualified than they are, but it can easily have the adverse effect as well. There’s no telling what hidden talents an intern might be able to bring to your organization if you don’t equip yourself with the tools to ask.
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