Managing Interns: Patience is Key

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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.

Remember, they’re learning

Often, your intern will not deliver on deadlines, send subpar emails, and wear some questionable outfits to the office. Remember, they’re still students and learning. Think back to when you were in school, and how classes and college taught you things in a very linear fashion. They gave you a syllabus and homework assignments with due dates. Your classes were focused on abstract things like “databases” or “sociology of families.” Very little of this transferred directly to your first office job.

Internships are an important opportunity for building the soft skills we all learned that first year in the office. This is your opportunity to perhaps lower your expectations, but also step up your mentorship and leadership skills. This doesn’t mean excusing bad behavior, but it means having patience as you teach skills they didn’t know they needed. 

Here are some more tips:

  • Schedule weekly check ins. Or even more often check ins! Structure is key here. Be sure to touch base on their work, how they’re feeling, and share your knowledge on crafting the perfect email or how to communicate when you’re running late.

  • Help them build a weekly report. Learning to measure your accomplishments and communicate your work with your manager is big. While some interns are naturals, many could benefit from a deck or template of how to report to you every week what they’ve done. 

  • Review schedules at the start. Do they have midterms or finals while they’re an intern with you? How about a spring break or vacation? I like to just tell them not to come in during or before finals, and if they wind up having free time it’s a nice surprise or they can make up the hours during a break. Students often forget how stressed they will be during finals and it’s best for everyone to get these milestones on the calendar.

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

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