Wednesday, April 18, 2012
From the Intern's Mouth: Best Practices for Supervising Gen-Y
I've been fortunate enough to have very professional, positive supervisors in my internship experiences. But I've heard from my friends the challenges of lunch-room politics. Don't force your intern to listen to office gossip, especially if it's coming from you. This not only creates stress for the intern, it also increases the likelihood that he or she will follow suit.
3. Be Flexible
4. Be Brave
5. Check In
6. Check Out
Just last week I attended an excellent talk by Nancy Barry, where she brought up that many employers think Gen-Yers are disloyal – company-hopping every two years. Nancy Barry has done a lot of research into Gen-Y and what motivates them (us) as employees, and she pointed out that it's not that Gen-Yers are not disloyal, it's that they're loyal to people, rather than companies.
It's true. In my own experience, I will return and work for free for many of the organizations where I've interned if I've had a good relationship with my supervisor. So, check out of work every once in a while. Take a moment to ask your interns about their family or their interests or their weekend. Invest real time getting to know your intern as a person and you'll get real returns.
7. The Buzzword: Network
Interns are notorious for not knowing quite what they want or quite where they're going. Networking is a fabulous way for you to introduce them to the different job opportunities that are out there. My first day at CNM, Katie Edwards and Katy Spicer had me set up interviews with every single CNM staff member, exposing me to all sorts of areas of Center work that aren't necessarily in my job description. I talked to people from development, consulting, accounting, technology and education. Now if I ever find myself looking further into one of those departments, I'll not only have people I can contact to help me out, I'll also remember Katie and Katy for the help they gave me in finding that path.
8. Change It Up
Give your intern a variety of projects. That way, multiple departments will benefit from the intern's expertise, and he or she will not get bored! I even recommend making sure that the intern has a few "menial task" projects – envelope-stuffing, inventory, data entry, etc. It's important that we Gen-Yers understand that every little task furthers the agency's mission and that we are not above doing anything to support that mission. Honestly, I quite enjoy a good menial task every now and then. After a long today of networking, there's nothing like being able to push a big stack of envelopes out the door and say, "Look! I did it!"
9. Document, Document, Document
Have your intern keep track of what he or she accomplished during the internship. I'm currently keeping an internship journal for college credit, and it actually helps tremendously with keeping track of the skills, products, events and relationships I've developed at the Center – everything that future employers are going to grill me about in my next interview.
10. Stay in Touch!
Again: Gen-Y interns are relationship-oriented. Stay in contact and we'll be surprisingly willing to help you out – whether it's volunteering at your next fundraiser or funneling future interns towards your organization