An Open Letter to Employers
I get it. It can be difficult to take the intern seriously. We usually have a minimum level of experience and command a near minimum (or nonexistent) paycheck. We’re young, so our opinions are passionate, plentiful and likely backed with very little life experience. Having said all that, your intern can be extremely valuable to you, if deployed properly. I should know. I’m the intern. And I’m one of the best cost-to-utility assets out there.
Lest you feel like I’m down on internships; I’m not. I’ve gotten a ton out of my time as an intern, but I’ve seen lots of friends who haven’t. With that in mind, here’s some advice for your company as to what you can do to make the best of your intern’s experience and maximize their value to you.
Day One Dues:
Your intern is (probably) young. For many of us, the closest we’ve gotten to the relentless office grind is sitting in a dark corner of the library for seven hours, studying for finals. We’ve never had to work with a team of people older than us so help us ease into it and make sure to introduce us to at least a few people right off the bat who can help us transition.
By the way, we’re easily bought. Having a desk space and a company Chap stick or t-shirt set up for us like you would a new full-time employee will win our hearts. Trust me, with our loyalty comes an enthusiastic worker bee with a great work ethic.
Having a space where coworkers are hiding inside cubicles or behind computer screens peeking out only for lunch and bathroom breaks won’t offer much of a learning experience. Millennials crave open communication (and a paucity of office coffee runs).
Alienating your intern from company or team decisions that a normal employee would be a part of is a mistake. They’re looking to learn from your team’s experience. And you never know; maybe your intern has some insight that could spark a great idea for your team. To make the most of the intern’s time, work to foster an environment where your interns are empowered and feel comfortable asking questions and bouncing ideas off of experienced employees. Trust me, you’ll want to hear what they have to say. After all, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts us tech-savvy Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2030.
The first thing an intern is going to want to see is a team that they want to be a part of (see above). The second is snacks. I hope this isn’t news to you- snacks are not intern specific. However, when your intern goes home after their first week and raves to all of their millennial friends who are also newly entering the job market (as fantastic candidates), they’ll be excited to know what free organic munchies and atypical office perks await.
Have you considered that interns are one of your best, not to mention free, marketing tools, for both hiring and telling people how cool [insert company here] is? This should come as no surprise being that one of the main things older generations tell us Gen Y’ers is to get off our phones and our Facebooks and our Instagrams. We’re constantly on our devices networking and social networking yada, yada. If yours is a company worth talking about, your intern is going to talk about it, tweet about it and post about it. Have a cool office? I’m probably going to Instagram it. Getting the idea?
What You Should Take from this:
Your intern positions might be temporary but your intern’s loyalty doesn’t have to be. We want to be treated like a true part of the team. Out of respect for us as well as your company, remember to welcome us the same way you would a new full time employee. It’ll make your intern feel like they have the opportunity to make a difference, which is what every millennial jobseeker is looking for.
Follow these simple pieces of advice and your interns will be some of the most attentive employees you have.
Ariel Lozovsky is a Marketing Intern at FirstJob who currently attends the University of Colorado at Boulder, studying Economics and Philosophy. When she's not reading, she loves petting dogs and playing tennis.