Setting Summer Internship Goals: A Framework to Get You Started

June 16, 2017

The benefits of bringing on a summer intern can be vast – from the money you save on compensation to an eager intern’s willingness to help in any way possible. So often, managers enter the summer hopeful and excited about the time their intern will free up for them. But in reality, this is rarely the case.

As intern supervisors, we often feel relieved at the end of the summer when we’re no longer charged with managing an intern’s day to day or disappointed by the lack of impact said intern had on our workload. However, with a little extra thought, preparation and planning, you can reap all of the benefits that a hardworking, diligent intern has to offer.

Here are a few simple things you can do in order to ensure that both you AND your intern get the most out of your short time together.

BEFORE you start interviewing interns

1. Draft a list of areas/projects where you’re hoping this person will be able to help. Be realistic here! Chances are that an undergrad isn’t going to be able to write that business plan you’ve been putting off, but likely WILL be able to help plan that big firm event you’ve been tasked with.

2. Based on the above, decide on 4 to 5 overarching intern goals (see template 1 below for guidance). These goals should capture specific areas of the business where the intern will be most helpful to you and your team.

  • For each goal, add a few specific actions that the intern can take to work towards completing that goal
  • Add measurable outcomes for each goal – these are the quantifiable results that you are expecting the intern to deliver on for each goal
  • Based directly on the goals and actions you fill template 1 with, create a detailed job description that highlights all key responsibilities for the intern

BEFORE the intern starts

Once you know how many hours the intern will be working each week, complete the Weekly Activity Breakdown for week one of the internship (see Template 2).

  • Be sure to factor in things like lunches, recurring weekly meetings, etc.
  • For every week beyond the first, the intern should take responsibility for completing the Activity Breakdown themselves and should present it to you for review

On the intern’s first day

  • Take him or her on a tour of the office, making sure to make introductions to anyone else in the office that they’ll be collaborating with
  • Provide a deep-dive on your company, the industry, your value prop, etc. Even though every intern should show up well-researched, this is very likely a brand new world for them and hearing it in your own words will offer a solid foundation for success. If they don’t understand the business, they’ll never understand their goals!
  • Review the completed Goals/Actions/Outcomes Template (Template 1) section by section
  • Review the Activity Breakdown Template (Template 2) line by line, and explain that her or she will be responsible for completing this going forward
  • Set a recurring one on one meeting with your intern (it can be as brief as 15 minutes!). Doing so will give you the opportunity to sync up with your intern to obtain consistent  pulse checks on progress, challenges, questions and so forth.

Planning ahead can make or break the success of your summer internship program for both you and your intern. By providing your intern with a detailed action plan, you’re more likely to walk away from the experience not only feeling less stressed, but also more fulfilled by the developmental opportunity you’ve given an up-and-coming undergrad.

TEMPLATE 1: Goals/Actions/Outcomes

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TEMPLATE 2: Hourly Activity Breakdown

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Sarah Duffy

Director of Talent

Sarah partners with OpenView’s portfolio companies to consult on recruitment strategy and to source and hire the top talent they need to scale their teams. Before joining OpenView, Sarah was Director of Recruiting at Betts Recruiting – a talent agency that specializes in pairing sales and marketing talent with software startups.