Interns: Not here to get your coffee

Women leaders know the urgency of investing in our upcoming generation, even if their motives relate only to improving our future. Yet, as Christian women leaders, we must feel compelled to invest because of our higher calling. 

The Bible suggests that we “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24b NIV). This calling to Christian women should be evident in all we do both in and out of the workplace. However, have we considered the unique opportunities we have to invest by strategically choosing interns?

Merriam-Webster defines intern as “an advanced student or graduate usually in a professional field . . . gaining supervised practical experience.” What better opportunity does a Christian woman have than to model for an intern how to be salt and light in his or her profession?

Universities often require interns to pay the university and render their services (often without compensation) in order to gain work experience and university credit. Knowing this, Christian women leaders should strive to help their companies gain reputations throughout these universities as companies who invest deeply in interns. 

Given that the intern pays the university to be in your workplace, think of the evaluation they give back to the university and what you’d like that to say about your company. Here are just a few quotes from our interns: “My professor suggested I should work here.” “I was surprised at how much time was put into the interns.” “The interns have meaning here.” “The level of trust you put in interns is huge.” “All of the people were nice and encouraging, giving advice, and answering questions.”

Christian women, we can and should take the initiative to be the voice of our company when it comes to interns. Hebrews 10:25 (NIV) says, “not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Our time to invest in others has a limit. So, let us not take this responsibility lightly. 

Consider these three ways to help your company create an exceptional intern program.

  1. What products or services can interns create or provide that will benefit your company yet currently may not be considered a priority in your workplace? In other words, think of real work to give your interns. Your company should create a culture where interns are not asked to do filing or to get coffee. Everyone in the company should be educated about how your company will and will not give work to interns. 
  2. How might you train your interns professionally while they work with you? Remember that Merriam-Webster said that an intern is “gaining supervised practical experience.” This experience should be gained pleasantly through a positive work experience. Yes, the internship will take your time, too. Consider it a strong investment you make on behalf of your company and as Christians, on behalf of Christ, into the lives of these students.
  3. How might your company help the interns develop as future leaders? Consider what your company does well. For example, if you are a publishing company, allow them to see and be involved in each step of the publication process. Can you help them get a short article published somewhere while they are working with you? Think of ways in which your company can uniquely equip the intern as a future leader. 

 

Creating an environment where interns thrive will set your company apart as universities advise students where to give their services. Also, after your company has made the investments, they may likely choose to hire a few former interns as well! As Christian woman leaders, we should take seriously these opportunities to invest in our future leaders.

Claudia Johnson, CWLC Leadership Consultant