There are dozens of blog posts and articles on do’s and don’ts for interns, but very few about the people they report to. An internship supervisor or coordinator has a lot to manage. Not only are they in charge of delegating assignments and keeping interns on track, they also have to fulfill their regular duties as an employee. It is most definitely a balancing act. Even the most diligent and responsible intern can have an awful internship experience if his or her supervisor isn’t up to par.
So before you blame it all on the intern, consider these things about his or her supervisors:
Do they give assignments aimlessly? The purpose of an internship is to learn; becoming more confident in your strengths and overcoming weaknesses. A good internship supervisor will know what his or her intern is good at and what could use improvement. Guidance should always be given when needed to help the intern reach that next level in their skill set. If your supervisor simply shouts an assignment sans explanation or assistance, it may be time to address the issue.
Do they know the intern’s goals? When I started my current internship, my direct supervisor asked me what I wanted to accomplish during my time as an intern. This is essential in insuring that an intern gets the best possible experience. The intern’s goals should be expressed at the start of the internship, and the supervisor should help the intern achieve them!
Do they give feedback? If you leave an internship with a hundred terrible writing samples, then was it even worth your time? No. It’s great when interns get to tackle new assignments and do hands-on work, but without feedback it is all pointless. A supervisor should go over assignments with interns, tell them what’s strong and what could use improvement. This is how growth happens, feedback is essential!
Do interns feel comfortable approaching them? Many times, an internship is a college student’s first peek into the professional world. An intern may assume that certain things are protocol and be hesitant to speak up or ask questions. It is crucial that supervisors create an environment where interns feel that it is safe for them to ask questions, learn from mistakes, and seek out opportunities. Everyone works better in a peaceful work environment.
So, does your internship supervisor seem to measure up? If you are a supervisor, do you think you embody these qualities? Share your thoughts!