Tags: career center, student networking
The semester is half over, so it’s time to take inventory of your interns, who have probably been so busy that you rarely hear from them. Even if students have been sending in their weekly reports, you still can’t tell if their internships are really working for them or if they’ve been too overwhelmed to contact you. And please don’t assume that all is well since you haven’t heard otherwise from internship supervisors, who may also be too busy to contact you. It’s not too late to correct any problems, leading to a successful conclusion and rave references.
First, set up an appointment for a phone or onsite visit with each intern. You can find out much more about a situation by talking “live” to a person rather than communicating by email or text messages. Keep the appointment short and prepare a few direct questions, such as “What do you like/dislike about your internship? What problems are you having with the assignments or supervisor? What can I or the school do to help you be more successful in your internship?” Their answers should reveal specific issues and initiate resolution.
Second, create a more detailed reporting form for the second half of the internship. Initial forms often use boxes for check marks to save busy interns time, but by now your interns should be involved in projects. Request samples of projects or abstracts of meetings, so you’ll be more knowledgeable about the internship. If busy students show resentment towards more detailed forms, remind them that you need to keep a good file to help them get their next internships.
Third, keep in touch in positive ways that include fun and fellowship. Along with your colleagues, plan a mid-semester party for your student interns. If some student interns are on distant sites, explore ways to bring them back for the special day or to include them via long-distance technology. Celebrate your students for making it half-way through busy internships and cheer then on to a fine finish. They’ll appreciate your efforts and renew their own.
Tags: corporate culture, education, fitting in at internship, intern, internship, student networking
by the Intern Coach
A. Corporate cultures can be confusing—even for long-term company employees, much less new interns. These shared values, standards, and behaviors reflect the leadership style and ultimately the success of a business. To help your interns understand and “fit in” to the corporate culture, suggest that they research the following elements in their individual companies:
- Values: Prospective interns can read up on the company history to understand the initial values and goals. Annual reports are also an excellent source of information on the company’s achievements, problems or changing values. Other documents that illustrate a company’s value system are the corporate mission statement and slogan, such as Pfizer’s “Working together for a healthier world.” Google and other search engines reveal information about the corporate leaders, reflecting the company values.
- Standards: Is the company a corporate citizen, sponsoring community events, including educational initiatives or fundraising? What kinds of events does it hold for employees? Is the holiday party a dinner at a fine dining restaurant or is it a buffet in the company lunchroom? Does the company award employees for reaching goals? Interns can find out this information from company newsletters or by asking employees. If interns listen to the lunchroom chatter and ask questions, they’ll hear lots of stories that will identify company standards.
- Behaviors: Behaviors, ranging from dress to language, can change from department to department. The executives may exhibit one behavior in the boardroom, but the employees may practice other behaviors, depending on department. Age also makes a difference in behavior. Social media may be more accepted in some departments.
- Different Cultures: Is it a bureaucratic culture, often found in government, banks, universities, hospitals, and insurance agencies? If so, the intern will probably work with forms, formal reports, and policy statements. Performance may be judged by adherence to compliance and procedures. Or is the company a work hard/play hard organization, usually true of startups, with short-term deadlines? If so, the student should have high energy and a can-do attitude. Some companies, such as Apple, believe in management by objective and offer stock options, innovative work rules, and profit-sharing. Teamwork drives that type of culture.
- Interns may want to share with each other their observations on corporate cultures in their individual companies, helping each other gain new understanding.