So you have an intern


A few months ago, a friend asked if Experience Institute had any open spots for an intern. Typically, we don’t work with interns because we reserve those spots for our own Fellows. And with a small team, we only have so much focus and attention.

But this summer, all of the current Ei Fellows were heading to other places. So we agreed. And On Monday our new intern, David, officially started his 6-week stint with us.

David just finished his junior year in high school, so we thought things might be slightly different working with him rather than the college or post-grad students we normally work with.

I know it’s only Wednesday, but we were wrong. David is sharp, driven, and a quick study for anything we’ve thrown at him thus far.

Still, I’ve been reminded that having another person working within our walls is something not to be taken lightly — for our sake and for David’s. So, here are eight lessons from past experience that our team and I hope to remember this summer:

Start well: Celebrate their arrival and make sure to go over any office rhythms, systems, tools, and traditions. We recently had lunch with David and invited him into our weekly Monday Morning Stand to kick off his time with us.

Set clear goals: Take some time to share one another’s goals for the internship. David was open to doing anything, but he really wanted a to chance to own a project or two – and specifically projects that could have clear metrics. So we’ve set up a project for him to re-think how we market and fulfill Ei’s physical products. There are other things that we can’t quite share, but each project has clear weekly goals and can be done within the timeline that he’s here.

In short, give them a clear and unambiguous explanation of what you want them to do.

Provide ample resources: Once you have clear goals, make sure they have the resources to complete them. That may entail technology, software, space, a team, etc.

Set the space: Speaking of space, set a space where they can interact with others. Even if they’re working remotely, consider where they can go (digital & physical) to engage, connect, and banter about their work. Part of David’s compensation this summer is to give him a desk at our WeWork office and it’s been great to have him around so far.

Define consistent checkpoints with a teammate: Here’s the hard part: hold them to what you both agreed upon. This is hard because schedules and goals change throughout a project. So, make sure there’s a clear point person and a clear time to check in weekly. Though I’m working with David, I’m actually not his direct report. One of our other teammates, Katie, has taken that role because she’ll be closer to David’s work.

Give autonomy: Once you give them clear goals, resources, and checkpoints, let them run. Even if they’re not doing it exactly how you would do it, let them finish before you critique/adjust the work.

Ask for feedback: It’s not going to be perfect. Set a time about mid-way through to check in on how things are going. Give them space to talk about what’s working well, and also what’s been disappointing. Having an honest conversation can be tough, but also an opportunity for really rich learning, and talking things through at the midway point gives you time to enjoy the fruits of that learning.

Be generous with encouragement: A lot is about to happen in a short amount of time. Celebrate the progress on the projects AND the person. Kind words, high fives, notes, and quality time go a long way.

Those are a few things we hope to remember.

What would you add?