It’s estimated that more than one million undergraduate students will complete internships this year.
If you run an internship program, and if you don’t, I suggest you start, now is the perfect time to take stock of what you and your interns can accomplish before your program ends.
As we enter the latter part of July, time is growing short before those young minds will be sauntering out the office door and back to campus. Are you ready to go out with a bang?
For the past five years, my partner and I have hosted interns from both the University of Missouri (our alma mater), and San Diego State University. We try our best to balance the experience of our interns across direct, tangible contributions to our business, and intangible experiences outside of the office.
It’s incredibly rewarding to welcome in the enthusiasm of youth and the positive attitudes most interns bring to any task given to them. For those of who’ve spent many years working in offices and dealing with the rollercoaster ride of business and a career, it’s a reminder of how we once were.
Running an internship program has also proven to be valuable for the bottom line of our businesses. No matter what industry you’re in, one of the biggest challenges is finding good people. Well, an internship is the perfect risk-free trial run for you to work with potential future employees. Interns are young, cheap, and are only around for a few months. If they prove to be a good fit for your business, make them an offer upon graduation. According to the different studies, anywhere from 40 to 60 percent of internships lead to full-time job offers.
By late July, the practical experience of an internship program has mostly run its course. The have made compiled reports, made some sales calls, or completed a nagging project that you were never going to find time to finish. They’ve become “one of the team” and seen what life is like in the real world of a fully functioning business.
It’s time to bring in the intangibles, and make this summer one they will never forget. Simply put, it’s time to make your internship program memorable.
Here are 6 ways to add a little fun to your internship program and make sure the summer goes out with a bang. The key ingredient? Get out of the office.
1. A Day at the Ballpark
Round up the interns and buy some tickets for a baseball game. It doesn’t matter if you’re in San Francisco or Topeka, there is most likely a local baseball team. It’s America’s pastime and we’re in the middle of summer. Pick a day game and knock off from the office. Toss each intern $100 when you walk into the stadium. Food, beers, it’s on the company's dime.
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2. Host the Intern Olympics
We’ve administered our own “Intern Olympics” on a few occasions, mixing up pure athletic competitions (like H-O-R-S-E) with the more absurd (like city-wide scavenger hunts). Buy some t-shirts and create teams amongst the company, supporting an assigned intern. Make sure the rules and events create a level playing field. Then sit back, and have fun.
3. Break Out the Karaoke
Nothing seems more “intern” than having your brood out to dinner and then surprising the interns with the opportunity to sing their favorite song in front of the whole company. Talk about a valuable life experience they will never forget. Chances are, they’ll be terrified, but they’ll love you in the end.
4. Show Off Your City
Are your interns from out of town? You should make sure to encourage them to experience life outside the office, visiting the sights. In San Diego, get them to the beach and to the Del Mar racetrack. In New York, make sure they visit MOMA and Central Park. That may seem obvious, but you can encourage those experiences by offering to buy them tickets or to take them yourself.
5. BBQ at Your House
Here’s an easy one any boss can do. Host a barbecue at your house for the interns, and invite other people from the company. Let them meet your family. Learn more about their family, and career goals. Crack open a beer. It’s summertime.
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6. Bonus: Las Vegas
If you’re a high-flyer and enjoy the action of Las Vegas, I’ll offer up that sponsoring an all-expenses-paid trip to the desert is a surefire way to win the hearts of your interns, and show them that there’s more to this “business” thing than the Excel files they’ve been helping you with all summer.
In the end, you want your interns to have a complete experience during their short time with your company. That means showing them more than the technical side of the business. Now is the perfect time to have a little fun, and make sure they go back to school and tell their friends what a great summer they had working for you.