Hey, Alex here. Shoutout to everyone that had an intern, let me tell you how I managed when I had to guide someone for the first time.
Two years ago, when I was National President of a student NGO, we receive a request from a Polish student, who wanted to come to Romania and be our intern for a couple of months. This is how I ended up managing an intern for the first time in my life. All I wanted to give in this experience is everything, or maybe the most important things I didn’t receive in my internships: responsiveness, encouragements and an action plan. I can definitely say that Anna, our intern, was the nicest person ever. She was very punctual, she acted immediately on everything we needed her to do and she enjoyed coming to all the events we invited her to come to. What did I learn from this experience?
1. Get involved
Don’t just get an intern/ employee if you don’t have time to work with him/her, show around, make him/her feel comfortable with the new environment that he/ she is working in. In many of the places I’ve worked in, the people in charge weren’t always on the top of their game when it came to helping you adapt. That's why, I had to figure most of the things all by myself (stuff such as how not to go around the whole city to finally arrive at the office, when there’s actually a bus that is taking 15 minutes).
2. Interview first
One of my mistakes I believe I did was that out of my enthusiasm of having a first ever intern in ESN Romania (something we didn’t even plan to have), I didn’t think it was absolutely necessary to have an interview with her (even though I have already read her CV and motivation letter). U think that happened maybe also because we started talking shortly after I've started my mandate as ESN RO president and I was a newbie, too. I do know that for the next person, I will be looking for certain projects that I need him/her to work on and a certain type of skills. Otherwise, we are going to end up consuming a lot of energy reviewing a lot of work, or also working on the project we need it finished, something which, we certainly don’t have time for (thats why we 'employ' somebody else to do it for us).
3.Have an action plan
Having an action plan is absolutely crucial when it comes to guiding the activity of the person you are working with. This because: you don’t want him/ her to do absolutely nothing and because you also want to see some progress on the projects that maybe have been on stand by for a long time (maybe because there was nobody to work on them). I drafted a plan for Anna, so that at the end of her internship I could figure out if I would want to guide want an intern again, what was progress on the projects and also because I wanted to know how much has she been working and what skills she has gained.
4. Make sure you follow up
Following up is certainly something that you would imply is part of the process, but trust me, 3 months is such a short time, and with so many international events going on, its hard to keep track of everything. What Anna did for us was to send us a report every Sunday, so that we could make sure she’s always working on something, as well as seeing her progress on the things we needed her to get done.
5. Write a recommendation letter
Writing a recommendation letter and having a good-bye dinner is a small thing you can do. Just make sure that your intern is going to be happy and tell others how you work and why it would be an amazing thing to come and work for you and your organization.
What was your experience with your intern?
Cheers, Alex, the CEO girl