It’s no secret that long-term staff often dread the summer onslaught of interns—a generation gap that can sink even the best-designed internship program. Smooth the process by having a talk with the older, wiser managers and co-workers who will interact with interns this summer. It’s all about setting expectations, generously sharing skills and knowledge and being open to learning themselves. Encourage staff members to:
- Make expectations clear. Remind staffers to set standards for newbies to follow—everything from work performance to behavior and even appearance. First-timers to an office setting might not understand that “business casual” doesn’t mean “weekend casual.” They may mistakenly believe that talented people like themselves never have to do boring, menial work. Your staff should set them straight.
- Teach what they can. Staff will spot where interns’ skills are lacking. Filling that gap is where your employees can contribute the most. The more skills interns acquire now, the more valuable they will be upon graduation, when they become potential new hires.
- Learn from them. Most twentysomethings bring an ease with social media to the workplace. Leverage their passion for posting by encouraging them to coach their older colleagues and even their managers. Two-way mentoring builds strong relationships from which both parties learn and grow.
- Be enthusiastic. Today’s college kids grew up with parents, teachers and coaches patting them on the back for every good effort. They value recognitions for their achievements. Celebrate even small wins with them, and do it publicly.