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How Summer Interns Can Help Your HR Team

Bringing in summer interns is a time-honored tradition in the workplace. They receive hands-on training in their potential new career, and you get the benefits of eager helpers. But not all internship programs are created equally. Some provide help and development for both sides, and some are just a way to fill time. 

How can you make the most effective use of your HR team’s summer interns? Here’s what you need to do to make your internship program a success for everyone. 

Set Clear Goals

To ensure your summer interns have the opportunity to make a difference for your team, you should have clear goals in mind for your internship program. 

Are you aiming to grow your talent pool for future HR hires, get a helping hand with your team’s to-do list, or boost your organization’s reputation on university campuses? There are many potential benefits to creating an internship program, so be sure to determine which ones are your priority. 

Making your goals clear from the outset will help you and your interns both get the most out of your summer together. You will know how to set expectations for the program and track progress, and they will know what’s expected of them as well. Setting individual goals for each intern too will help keep them on track. 

Assign Interns Real Work 

One very common mistake is assigning summer interns only basic tasks. For the maximum benefit to their career development, and your team, they should also be assigned at least some real, meaningful work. 

That doesn’t mean they can’t assist with tasks like day-to-day sorting, but they should get some real work experience as well. And assigning them meaningful work, like posting new job openings, can take some things off the plate of your busy staff. 

Prioritize Non-Time-Sensitive Tasks 

A great way to assign interns meaningful work that they can tackle in their summer with your team is giving them non-timely tasks, like building brand awareness. They can gain real work experience and feel a sense of accomplishment. And since these are the non-urgent but meaningful tasks your team often doesn’t get around to doing, it benefits your HR organization as well. 

Delivering Fresh Insights 

Your summer interns will bring a fresh set of eyes and a lot of enthusiasm to their role, and your team should use that to the fullest. Interns can provide another perspective on issues large and small because they’re not tied to the typical way of doing things. 

Including them in brainstorms or discussions about changes might yield exciting new opportunities for your HR team. And getting the chance to provide input and ideas will make their internships more satisfying as well. 

Pay Interns

A successful internship program is a diverse one – you want to encourage the next generation of HR talent from every background. But if your summer interns aren’t paid, you’re limiting the opportunity to only the students who don’t need to work for money, and that rules out all but the most privileged few. 

Of course, you’ll need executive buy-in to get an internship budget. But the benefits of diversity far outweigh the cost of giving your summer interns a living wage. They won’t need to choose between a career development opportunity and a paycheck – they can get both. 

Offer Mentoring 

Mentoring is a powerful tool to increase diversity and help your interns determine their career path. You can assign each intern a mentor, or if that’s too time-consuming, assign them in groups. 

The key is guiding these students through the larger goals of their assignments so everyone gains the most out of the program. You could even assign your junior employees a few interns to mentor to increase their leadership skills in the process. 

Summer interns can bring many benefits to your organization – if you know how to use them wisely. Looking for more ways to build a diverse talent pipeline? Cangrade can help!