This summer I was very lucky to have a lovely intern called Sean to join the KUHR team. I would highly recommend taking on an intern if you are a small business and ever get the chance as not only did I gain a great help to my business, but also someone who I would welcome back as a potential full-time employee in the future, plus…I even helped Sean realise that he did want a career in HR.
I wanted to share with you Sean’s guide for why interning is great!
An internship can be a scary thing, you are delving into the unknown, especially those who haven’t had any work experience up to this point. But, it also holds a wealth of benefits that I hope to gather during my time working.
For any student, an internship is of paramount importance for when you apply for a graduate scheme. If all goes well in the summer, it will give you that vital reference you need as well as full-time work experience that could help you clinch the graduate job that you have always wanted. These days some may argue that it is difficult to get anywhere without some form of work experience and this is a great way to prepare for working life after the comfortable days of studying have passed us by.
Another reason why internships are great is because they get you into a routine, having to get up and get ready…unlike at university where life seems to be dislocated from the real world. Thus, this is an excellent way to kick your life into gear and obtain something of value for your future, all in one summer. It shows that you are committed putting in the time and have a desire to get working.
The benefits aren’t only there for the intern, but also for the employer. They can give a student an extra push, to make their future potentially even brighter. There is also the fact that as an employer you are passing on vital knowledge that can be helpful to both them and the field in which they are to work.
As an employer, if you are feeling overwhelmed with your work, they are someone that can be a useful assistant and can help you clear a backlog. For example, you may have the opportunity to tailor your work day around someone that can be in the office doing tasks for you while you can be out seeing more clients.
However, it must be understood that they are still learning and may have never worked in your field before, so it’s important to build a support infrastructure for them as well. The best part is, you might even find that after a successful internship, the intern is maybe someone that you can take on board after they have finished their degree and because of the internship, they are already a trained and competent employee, so you don’t have to go through the whole recruiting process again.
Another way to look at it is, it’s a cheaper and more efficient way for temporary full-time recruitment. Especially if you go through a university, you’ll have plenty of applicants in no time at all and have a candidate who is raring to go.
Benefits for both
So, you can see there are many benefits to both parties involved in an internship. Just remember, it’s no good just having the intern making coffee or walking your dog. Give them real tasks that will help with your workload and be there to support them if they need any help. It will take time out of your day, but it’s worth it for the development of the intern. However, don’t be afraid to throw them in the deep end, just make sure you have support for them as well.
Tips from Sean, The Intern
- Ask Questions – It is evident that any intern will want to go out of their way to impress their employer. To show that you are independent, and you can do it all by yourself. However, this can in some ways be a detriment if you go on to rely on yourself in an area that you have never worked before. Thus, my first tip is don’t be afraid to ask questions. Although you do need to show independence, you’ll be more of a detriment to the clients and to yourself if you’re simply helping blindly. So, although you may feel a pest (I know I do), it’s worth asking if you need help and most of the time, its no trouble at all for someone to help you.
- Research – Make sure you do a bit of research on how to use common office systems such as excel before starting. You’ll be using things like excel more often than you imagine and knowing the basics will give you a head start. Also, if there are any area-specific systems such as Breathe HR, it might be worth doing some learning at home so you’re ready to smash it out of the gate.
- Be communicative – Show your colleagues that you’re interested in what you’re doing and show that you have a personality. Don’t be too excessive but do be friendly. Having the confidence to be yourself in a new environment is important, but you have to also remember what’s appropriate for the workplace.
- Be prepared to learn – Have your pen and notebook at hand in order to observe because you’ll have to be doing what you’re shown on your own sooner rather than later. It’s best to be told once and then be able to handle yourself, this is especially possible if you have made notes to refer to. Know the times where you have to learn and then when you have to lead yourself.
- Pack a big lunch – You’ll be here a long time and by the afternoon hunger firmly sets itself in and you’ll be begging to eat. Sitting at a desk doesn’t sound like it would use a lot of energy, but trust me, it still makes you very hungry.