Q. How much responsibility should I take in ensuring the success of our college interns?

June 22, 2010 at 10:52 am | Posted in career center, Intern Support | 1 Comment
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by the Intern Coach

A. When making a decision about taking responsibility for individual students and their internship success  you should consider your school’s overall philosophy regarding how much responsibility students should take for their activities and how much responsibility the school should assume.

Consider these factors:

  • Individual professional style: Your own philosophy comes into play here, too, since you serve as a role model and mentor for your students. If you’re an independent person and take ownership of your decisions, then your students may model their behaviors after you. If you approach your work as a collaborative effort and your decisions are team-based, your interns may become more comfortable working within that style.
  • Individual intern style: Aside from the school philosophy and your own professional style, you need to evaluate each individual intern. An insecure student will want your help while a self-confident student may resent your advice. Unless you see a reason to change a student’s behavior, you may want to give your interns space to grow as individuals.
  • Parental involvement: Parents also come into the equation. They realize that an internship is very important to their child’s future, so if parents get involved they will bring their own set of expectations and possibly even issues.
  • Intern supervisor’s involvement: If the intern supervisor contacts you or you see something disquieting in your intern’s reports, then you have to sort out the problems. It may be easier to keep track of your intern through the intern supervisor who will probably appreciate your active interest in your intern’s success.
  • Balancing act: Please keep in mind that there is not a right or wrong way to measure how much responsibility you should take for your college interns. You have to balance the school, yourself, the intern, the parents, and the intern supervisor and come up with the right formula. If in doubt, it would be wise to take charge, especially if any problems would reflect badly on your school and consequently yourself.  
  • Written document defining roles: A written document, defining the roles and responsibility in an internship, could clarify the above issues. Then, make sure your student intern reads the document before starting an internship and also signs it as an acknowledgement of understanding who takes responsibility. You may want to sign it, too, as an affirmation of the agreement and as a protection against misplaced blame.

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