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:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

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