Management Matters Management MattersManagement Matters
Practical advice for federal leaders on managing people, processes and projects.

Intern Inquisition

ARCHIVES
With the new year in full swing, some federal offices may be starting to think about searching for summer interns. While, of course, agency managers must be vigilant about following federal rules and regulations on interns, they do have some leeway and should take the time on the front end to ensure the internship experience is a win-win.

Before publicizing your opening for interns, spend some real time thinking about what you want your organization to get out of this arrangement and what you want the interns to learn. You might even consider drafting a mission statement laying out specific goals and expectations. This not only will help you write a better announcement and organize the program, but it also will provide a starting point for finding interns who have the qualifications you think are necessary and outline the areas of interest that will attract them to the position.

In this stage, also think about the tasks that will be available and appropriate for interns and who will be responsible for distributing work, supervising and managing their projects and providing feedback. An intern coordinator with a genuine interest in taking on the additional responsibility can serve as a mentor and gatekeeper, ensuring the interns are neither bored nor overwhelmed and that they are meeting expectations on assignments.

If you are able to hire more than one intern, then consider making available several positions based on subject matter and then find candidates interested in those specific areas. Alternately, you could rotate the interns through the various departments during the course of their time with your organization. Either way, grouping them enables them to develop some understanding in a given area, increasing their competence and, ultimately, their interest in it.

Finally, research the kind of training that will be necessary. Your agency may have standardized training for temporary hires, but you should supplement it with formal or informal instruction that will prepare them for the tasks they will encounter with your organization. It might be helpful at this stage to talk with employees whom the interns will work for and with and asking them what they think will be essential for the interns know before diving in.

Once the position has been announced and you start to interview candidates, think long and hard about how you want to present your organization to those candidates. While it may be tempting to think of interviews as a one-way selection process, especially in this job market, this is your opportunity to sell young people on government service in general and your agency in particular. As you pitch your organization, encourage candidates to ask questions. It may be easier to distinguish insightful and engaged interns by how they react to your comments than by how they respond to standard interview questions.

Also try to suss out their genuine interests and determine if those interests match what the interns will encounter at your organization. These interests don't necessarily have to be subject matter specific, but finding out if they like writing or interacting with people or social media, for example, will help you decide if they will be energized by the assignments you give them or bored by them. While all interns know some grunt work comes with the territory, everyone benefits when the internship involves at least some work they truly enjoy.

 
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.