Heather Gordon is Legal Director at Martyn Fiddler Aviation. Heather joined the team in 2013 having previously practiced within a leading Isle of Man law ...Contact Heather Gordon
Project MFA: 6 tips to providing a good intern experience
This summer Martyn Fiddler Aviation welcomed two interns for an eight-week placement as part of the Isle of Man Government STEP programme. Benjamin Long and Alexandra Kirin each took on research projects to help MFA develop possible new services and to continue MFA’s desire to provide the best client experience we can.
As many businesses know, taking on two interns is no easy task – it is far more involved than merely providing a topic title and workspace.
Here are our 6 top tips for providing a meaningful intern experience to students:
Provide a structure
As with any research project, simply providing a project title is not enough. It is important to map out why the project is important, what the goals and objectives are, what the structure of the project will look like and how it should be presented.
Even better is to provide this guidance as part of a written framework at the outset that your intern can refer to periodically, so they know they are on track. This will also enable the intern a certain amount of independence for the project and benefits the project manager as they can ensure everything is on track while managing everything else on their plate!
Please note: photocopying is not an intern project. Projects should challenge and stimulate the intern while providing a benefit and value to the business.
Providing your intern with timescales and check-in stages are vital. Periodic check-up meeting between the project manager and intern are necessary to discuss progress made and any issues that have arisen. Remember, while you created the project concept and know why and how it relates to your business – your intern will not share this deep understanding. This often can have one of two affects:
- Your intern will discover something you had not considered as important before because their view is unencumbered by industry bias – this may take the project in a different direction and change its focus; and/or
- Your intern has gone down a rabbit hole and you need to explain why this has happened and how to get back on track.
Either way, providing your intern with periodic guidance is extremely beneficial for both parties and they will be grateful for the interaction and feedback on the project.
Understand your intern’s goals
As a business, the goal of having an intern is often to complete a research project that you or another team member has not had time to complete. The goal of the intern however is quite different; it is to get an understanding of working in a business and experience of an office environment – sometimes for the first time.
Do not underestimate the importance of your interns’ goals. While it will take additional time from you and other team members to explain the background to the business, its vision and values, its services and its internal operations, it is in fact a great opportunity for both intern and the business. An internship always provides a business with an opportunity to extend its brand awareness to the future generations of workforce and helps identify talent the business may waish to pursue.
Often the easiest way to understand the culture of your business is via social events both in and outside the office. Therefore, do not exclude your interns from this; include them in all social elements of work life during their time with your business. The power of including your interns in this part of your business should not be underestimated and it will outweigh any small cost for their attendance.
Only in exceptional cases will the completed project be as the business had hoped. Reasons for this may be:
- The project concept is not viable;
- The overall project was not sufficiently defined and therefore the final report is off topic;
- It was unrealistic for an intern to undertake a project that required high levels industry experience and knowledge;
- The project was presented in a way unfamiliar to the business.
In each case, this is not a disappointment caused by the intern. Businesses should be realistic about the outcomes of an intern project and set their objectives accordingly. For example, while the project itself may indicate a less than desirable outcome, the data generated during the project could be invaluable to identifying previously unthought of opportunities.
While it may be obvious, remember to thank your intern for the work they have performed for you and invite them to contact you for future guidance and assistance (for example offer to be their referee). It is small gestures that interns will remember and will set your business apart from others they may have experience with.
The information included in this article is considered true and correct at the date of publication; changes to rules and regulation made after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of the information referenced or inferred to in this article. The information in the article may change without notice and Martyn Fiddler Aviation is in no way liable for the accuracy of any information printed or stored or in any way interpreted and used by the user. This article or the information contained in it is not provided or intended to be used as advice of any form.
If you have any doubts or would like to discuss any aspect of this article, please do not hesitate to contact one of our experts who will be happy to discuss your individual circumstance.