What you need to know:
- I also suggest that you manage your internship programme in the same way you would manage a recruit. Make sure the expectations are clear, that you link reward with performance and that the learning method also includes online learning .
Dear Caroline, my brother owns an engineering firm and I have joined him with an architectural business unit. The business has been running successfully for the 15 years. A few years ago, we decided to recruit from the universities, taking them through an internship programme and later taking them on as employees. In the last year or so, we have noted that our young interns have some challenges. Their concentration span seems to be a challenge; they are quick to deliver work, but when you look at the detail, the quality is questionable; there is a focus on the money and aspects such as timekeeping, writing, and communication are a concern. I know I am old school, but how do I deal with this?
Hello Ian; well done to you and your brother for committing to grooming young talent . The issue you are raising is a global issue. One of the realities you need to accept is that the graduates coming out of university now are from an era where the approach to schooling and training is different. I know many make this statement as though it is a problem; however, that may not be the case. I believe that employers nowadays need to step into the gap to build skills and mindsets that may have been nurtured while they were at university. Despite employer frustration, we have some remarkable young people who need the guidance and mentoring that will make them the best version of themselves. So, your approach needs to be different and must be flexible for the current realities. One way of addressing the issues is to work closely with your interns and take them with you when you visit sites or clients. Your internship programme should be more than just being in the office. When exposed to the profession, being present in meetings, negotiations, and dynamic sessions, they will realise several issues. The exposure will open them up to what they do not know technically, and engaging in the discussions will open their minds to realise the importance of issues around communication, listening, delivering accurate reports, timekeeping, etc. Let the programme also include them being attached to projects where they work with the team on sites so they can appreciate what happens on the ground. Be patient.
I also suggest that you manage your internship programme in the same way you would manage a recruit. Make sure the expectations are clear, that you link reward with performance and that the learning method also includes online learning . You could also getting them to participate in learning sessions for first year students at their former universities and secondary schools. What you are doing is creating a mindset that focuses on professional growth and career. Also address non-performers. Remember, you are building your talent pipeline. If an intern cannot commit during their internship, will they commit as an employee? Good luck.
Managing Director, The Leadership Team (U) [email protected]