What Do Interns Really Want?

internsHaving interns is pretty lovely – they’re smart, eager and always want to do more.Having them around allows us to concentrate on providing better service to our clients and fulfill their needs more than ever.

Lately there has been a lot of media attention concerning the ethics of having interns, paid vs. unpaid internships, etc. so we decided to ask a couple of our interns to be honest with us about their expectations and here is what we learned:

Relevant work:
As Stephen pointed out, the old trope of interns being relegated to fetching coffee, photocopying and acting as general assistant to anyone in the department is played out and irrelevant to interns seeking real work experience. At Brendan & Brendan, we make sure that we assign relevant work to our interns’ interests, skill sets and skill levels. We like to challenge our crew, but we don’t like to give them impossible things to do either. It doesn’t hurt that they feel their work matters. I find it results in better quality work and shows that they take responsibility for the work they submit.

Hard work:
For the interns, it was explained that it was important to have enough work to be busy to feel needed. But also not to be worked so hard that you’re taken advantage of.

Feel appreciated:
At Brendan & Brendan, we’re a small nucleus of full-time workers, so the interns and contractors we hire have to be people we trust and find responsible. As a result, Megan pointed out that we definitely appreciate them and it shows.

Mentorship, networking and building connections:
These three go hand-in-hand. According to Linnea, a lot of internships are unpaid, and so part of the expected results are a close relationship with someone already working and established in the industry. Ideally, this is a person who you can trust to guide you career-wise as well as in terms of quality of work. It’s also handy to have someone who can introduce you to relevant people, help you get into useful networking situations and help you hone your skills.

Building a portfolio:
This one is particularly important to most interns. Although they work for us at Brendan & Brendan, the work they produce needs to be relevant and transferable to the jobs they seek whether within our company or outside.

As an intern or someone looking for interns, what else should be on this list?

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