With a labour shortage looming and the competition for top talent already fierce, one trend we’re seeing more and more of is employers using internship and co-op programs as feeders for entry level roles.
It’s also how Just-Eat.ca, Canada’s largest and fastest-growing online restaurant/food order service, hired five of its full-time entry level employees this year.
Just-Eat’s Antonio da Luz and Jane Mai explained how they used TalentEgg to hire nine interns, exposed them to all areas of the business including Sales, Marketing, Operations and Finance, and launched 11 significant intern-driven projects.
I’ve been an intern before. I’ve grabbed the coffees, cleaned the kitchen. I’ve even driven the boss’ car to pick someone up (didn’t mind that one). But on top of the trivial tasks, I also did some pretty meaningful work – tasks like writing proposals to attend conferences and making wicked presentations that were seen by hundreds of people. These tasks benefited the business and freed up other employees’ time.
Meaningless tasks are part of the intern life, but that’s okay as long as you get to do challenging and rewarding stuff too. If an intern is engaged and learning then they can be very productive and beneficial to your business.
Here’s why I think it’s important to keep interns engaged:
An engaged intern will achieve better results and free up your ‘real’ employees’ time, allowing them to do more important tasks.
Treating your interns poorly says a lot about your company culture. An intern may even write about how awful their experience was on their blog, and who wants to have to deal with the consequences of that? Far-fetched? Maybe. Impossible? No.
An engaged intern will be more likely to want to take an entry level position after they complete their internship. Hiring a former intern is less risky than hiring a complete stranger for an entry level position.
I’m guessing a lot of you who are reading this agree with the benefits of keeping interns engaged. The tricky part is how. Interns have no experience and require a lot of hand-holding which takes valuable time away from the employees who are responsible for managing them. Below are three ideas on how to keep interns engaged so you can free up your time and focus on your responsibilities:
Before you take on an intern, develop a project that they can focus on and run with. Let them know that this is their project and they are responsible for the results. This will make them feel more like a full-time employee and free up your time, too.
Challenge them. Assign them a task that’s beyond their skill level and ability and see what they come back with. It’s important to let them know that their assignment is beyond their abilities so as not to discourage them. Young people like a challenge, especially if they think it’s ‘cool’. And who knows, they may even come back with a great result. Bonus.
Tell them about a challenge that is facing the company or a certain department. Let them brainstorm ideas on how they would tackle the challenge. Not only is this a great way to engage them, they may also come up with some great ideas.
An engaged intern will be productive and eager to take on the menial tasks. If you’re going to have interns why not treat them as a potential employee and get them to be as productive as one?
Do you have interns at your company? How do you keep them engaged?
Yesterday afternoon we welcomed a design engineer in training from Ontario Power Generation to the Egg Carton for about an hour to shoot a video series for our upcoming Focus on Engineering (Sept. 20-24).
However, before he arrived, I had to configure the “set” to get it ready for the interview. I asked Danielle (editorial assistant) and Daisy (marketing intern) to act as host and guest while I adjusted the camera and the lighting. And recorded them.
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"Our experience with TalentEgg has been absolutely phenomenal. I wouldn't think twice about recommending TalentEgg to any company hiring recent grads and interns!"
— GE Canada
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