Managing Interns: Be the Manager You Always Wanted

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For the next few weeks Ciara Bush (UX Insights and Design Lead for BUILT BY GIRLS) will be sharing how to be an awesome manager to your interns. Working with interns on your team can be an amazing, enriching, and valuable experience for everyone. It’s important to remember that while they are there to support you and your team, they’re primarily there to learn about their chosen field and what it really looks like to be in the professional world.


Be the manager you wish you had

We all have gripes about our managers or past managers and how we wish they had done XYZ better. Well, here’s your chance! Be present, and be the leader and support you would like.

  • Empathy and kindness are qualities of a strong leader. Leaders don’t have to be mean or calculating. Gen Z in particular (and I mean, don’t we all?) wants to work for people and companies who care. They will deliver more and do it better if they feel supported. This can be as simple as asking how their weekend went, delivering feedback with kindness, and saying thank you, often.

  • Encourage questions and critical thinking. Interns are terrified to be wrong. This can stop them from asking you questions and stunt their critical thinking. A friend of mine once made her intern ask 3 questions a day, and at the same time asked them to try to solve a problem for 5 minutes before asking a question. Both are valuable practices to opening a dialogue and teaching problem solving.

  • Make goals for yourself! What do you hope to accomplish as the manager of an intern by the end of this experience? This is also about you. Reflect on how you hope this will grow you as a professional and the kind of experience you want to provide. 

And remember, you’re providing an amazing experience to someone who might not otherwise get this opportunity. Someone once took a chance on you, and now it’s your chance to pay it forward.

For more tips on being an awesome manager to an intern, check out Ciara’s other tips here.