Cracking the intern mantra – How to make the most of your internship program

Cracking the intern mantra - How to make the most of your internship program (2)About the Author: Chaitanya Peddi is an XLRI alumnus and the co-founder of Darwinbox, a new age end to end HR and analytics platform. He talks about his intern-mantra and how it helped him in running a successful internship program.

With a pedigree from the country’s best B-school and years of experience working with the best of MNCs, it’s still a whole new thing to start up. Finding co-founders, who are almost your better-halves, and investors who see merit in your vision is just one-half of the game; building a zealous team that brings the skills to the table and is just as passionate as you are, plays a significant role in building a successful startup.

At Darwinbox, we believe in building teams that can resonate with our passion for building a world-class HR Technology product. Interns, being at the beginning of their professional learning curve, have been the most passionate and enthusiastic members of our team. A little bit of guidance and a challenge is all an intern needs, to be as effective as an experienced team member. We have had some great interns and a few not so great as well to understand all about building our startup dreams with interns. Here’s a piece of our intern mantra that we have cracked over time:

Retain the zeal and energy:
“Energy and persistence conquer all things.” – Benjamin Franklin.
The best of the hires still need to be engaged to retain their zeal and energy. Ensure that interns understand how their work contributes to the bigger goal and mission of your company. Keep them involved in a broader set of activities so that you can identify their strengths and skills. We believe that an intern is as much a valuable asset to the company as a permanent employee. So, we don’t take our interns for granted. We throw real challenges at them and provide them ample opportunities to grow with us.

The reason for commitment:
Even for the most passionate interns, there needs to be a reason for commitment, apart from the learning opportunity. We always consider an intern to hire them for a full-time position post the internship. This becomes the reason for an intern to deliver their best performance. While it may not be a full-time job for everyone, it can even be an internship certificate or a project relevant to their course that can be the reason for their commitment. After all, if they don’t feel committed to your company, then they are not resourceful for you at all.

Targets, not timings:
While everyone needs a process to ensure discipline at work, we believe in targets for even the youngest of our team members rather than work timings and rules. Well-defined tasks with timelines make it a lot easier to ensure that they are giving their best. We have never tried to force them to abide by the rules, but we are very clear about what we want from them. By the end of the internship period if your company is successful in imparting its core values to the interns, then it’s a win-win situation.

Matching skills with interest:
While interns came from specific streams of education, we were always open to having them contribute to a different field that draws their interest. However, it was important to evaluate that the intern’s reason behind that profile was well understood. Before hiring any intern for a specific job, we ask them to complete a set of tasks. These augmented tasks are very close to the work we are doing and give them an insight into what it’s likely to work with us. Once we were confident of the interns’ caliber, we provided the required guidance to get them started with this new area of interest.

Both parties evaluate:
We always knew that it wasn’t just us evaluating the interns for a full-time role; it was the other way round too. The interns must also feel that they are working with a team with whom they want to work full-time in the future. We ensure that all our interns are involved holistically in the culture, work, and vision of the organization so that they can make an informed decision at the end of their internship.

Lastly, we believe that a candidate who has interned with us would have a knack of the pain points we are trying to solve. And that’s what a start-up looks for in its interns.

Looking to apply this mantra and hire interns for your company? Please post your requirements here.

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