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4 tips for managing farm interns

Give your intern the treatment and respect they deserve.

Intern season is in full swing, and you’re likely busy with your own duties while also finding things for your new summer student to handle. While it might seem okay to hand them a menial task you just don’t want to do, think twice: internships can also help or hurt your brand. Giving an intern a positive experience creates buzz that they will then share with their colleagues and friends. Providing a negative or meaningless experience for them, in turn, also gets them talking but they likely won’t have glowing things to say about your company or your people. Create a meaningful internship experience by following these tips:

  1. Get them out of the office. Interns today are seeking exciting experiences. Instead of keeping them cooped up in the office constantly, find ways for them to travel and see everything about your business. Are you spread over multiple locations? Take them on a field day occasionally so they can experience the differences in each site. Going to a conference or a tradeshow? Ask them to join you. If these opportunities don’t exist, get them interacting with different team members and peers. Go out for lunch once in a while to create networking.
  2. Give them valuable work. There’s a big difference between an intern and a summer worker. Are you treating your intern more like a hired hand? Internships are meant to provide valuable experiences they can put on their resume and apply to their career one day. Getting coffee and making copies won’t satisfy those needs. Give them real responsibility, unique project work.
  3. Equal treatment. Nothing is more defeating than being treated like “just the intern.” Give your intern the treatment and respect they deserve. Invite them into meetings and ask for input. If you don’t have time for an intern, you shouldn’t have hired one. Take time to listen to them as if they were another respected member of your team.
  4. Give feedback. Millennials and Generation Z are known for their strong desire to have constant communication and feedback. Share your thoughts with them often, whether positive or constructive. Be timely on your follow-ups so that they know their progress. Setting up weekly connects can be a helpful and manageable method to accomplish goals and give the feedback desired. An internship is meant to help students learn. Don’t wait until their internship is complete to give real and honest feedback, though a performance review at mid-internship and at the conclusion are also recommended.

Is your organization interested in receiving positive and constructive feedback from your interns? AgCareers.com offers the Internship Benchmark Survey made up of student evaluation of your internship program in an industry benchmarking format for both the beginning and conclusion of their internship. Learn more on AgCareers.com.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress.

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