About the Author: Saras Ramamoorthy is the co-founder of Learning Matters, an Ed-Tech startup that creates digital education products. She talks about why an organization’s performance should also be evaluated in an internship program.
With 35 hands on deck within 8 months of inception, we were growing fast. With work coming in faster than we could say “do we have people to take that on?” it was time to consider interns. We needed people to write quality content within a short timeframe and for short-term projects. Specifically, we thought of interns as committed individuals who would deliver in a short timeframe. They had to be a committed lot; after all, they were already proving themselves ahead of their peers by looking out for internships. And, given the stage of life they were in, they were going to be alright with short-term work.
With the decision to hire interns made, we registered on Internshala. Within a couple of days of posting our requirement, we received an astounding response – 163 applications for 5 positions! After four days of sifting through resumes and (what seemed like) hundreds of phone calls, we had hired our first five interns – all college students who would work remotely for us.
So what was it working with our interns?
They impressed us from the get-go. They were eager to begin work and raring to go. One delighted us by changing his email signature, within minutes of having been told he got the intern position, to say “Intern at Learning Matters”! It felt good to see that our internship mattered so much to him.
We also realized that hiring interns meant responsibility on our part to guide them well. These individuals were with us because they were committed to the goal of gaining professional experience. They wanted to learn as much as they can. We ensured that we spent quality time orienting them about the work and walking them through the processes. We checked-in on them, responded in a timely manner, and showed them the same respect that we show our other consultants.
And what did we get in return?
Contrary to what we tend to hear about the irresponsibility and sense of entitlement shown by the “younger generation” these days, these individuals were professional, mature, responsive, and responsible. They took their deadlines seriously and delivered good work on time. If they couldn’t, they let us know and they apologized. Furthermore, they showed enthusiasm and an open-mindedness to trying new things. They asked us about other projects and willingly worked on the work samples. If they didn’t get selected for additional work, they thanked us for the opportunity and for having considered them. Our internship experiences were so good that we extended our existing interns’ contracts and promptly hired two more, again through Internshala!
Interns and organizations: one-way or two-way traffic?
Most often, internship programs involve a one-way evaluation – from the perspective of the organization i.e. an evaluation of its interns. How did the interns perform? Did they measure up to the organization’s expectations? What were their strengths and weaknesses? What is overlooked, to the sad detriment of organizations, is an evaluation from the perspective of an intern i.e. an evaluation of the performance of the organization. How did the organization perform? Did it orient and train its interns well? Did it provide the interns with the right knowledge and tools to set them up for success? Did the work actually match the job description that the interns were hired for? Were the interns supported well enough with prompt responses and timely communications? Or, were they treated like a dispensable commodity?
It would be in organizations’ interests to seek answers to these questions from their interns. Many might find a surprising mismatch between their perceptions of their own performance and their interns’ ratings.