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How to Make Your Intern an Informal Company Ambassador

By Paige Kassalen

Summertime is here, and that means you probably have interns joining your company for the next few months.

These interns are looking to gain experience and showcase their value as a potential new hire, but it can be easy to forget that they will also serve as a direct source of information to their classmates about the inner workings of your company — the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Therefore, it is your responsibility to make sure that your intern returns to school as an informal company ambassador to ensure your company remains top of the list for other students.

Here are three tips, and ten tangible steps, to ensure your intern walks away as an informal ambassador:

Make your intern feel important and give them things to brag about

  1. Invite them to sit at the table – One thing that really stuck out to me during my internships was when my manager saved a seat for me at the table. This made me feel important, because they wanted me in the middle of the discussion, even though I did not have much to add. For a remote internship, the equivalent of this could be having them sit in and listen to a smaller meeting with high-up or important stakeholders.
  2. Ask for their opinion – As a manager of an intern, you will spend a lot of time telling them what to do. To make them feel important, spend some time asking for their opinion as well. Ask things like “have you ever experienced this type of issue?” or “do you have any ideas for what the next steps could be?” This shows that your intern has value to add, and you are interested in learning from them as well.
  3. Give them a compliment in a meeting – Dale Carnegie said, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Combine that with a compliment in front of your colleagues, and you will be sure to give your intern something to excitedly share with friends.

Build your intern’s confidence and give them the experience they are looking for

  1. Explain how their work is adding value – To help your intern feel confident in their work, explain how their work fits into the bigger picture of an overall company goal, or explain to them how their work will be used. These details will not only help them confidently talk about their work, but also help them build their resume.
  2. Review their resume – Investing time in your intern’s professional growth will go a long way. By reviewing their resume, you will help them understand how to position themselves for future opportunities and make sure they walk away feeling confident in their abilities.
  3. Give them interesting projects – Your intern is looking to gain practical experience, so give them work that will help them achieve that goal. Ask them what courses they took in the past year and try to find a way to incorporate that knowledge into available projects.

Be inclusive and make them feel a part of the team

  1. Share personal experiences from when you started your job – It can be intimidating being an intern, and it can feel like there is a huge learning curve to overcome. Reminding the intern that you were once in their shoes will make them feel less anxious about their performance and realize that what they are going through is normal.
  2. Invite them to lunch with other colleagues – Interns ask a lot of questions, and these constant questions can make them feel like they are bugging their manager. Inviting them to lunch with other colleagues highlights that you look at them as a team member, and not just someone you have to manage for a few months.
  3. Get to know them – Everyone has a life outside of work, including your intern. By asking them questions about their personal life, you show that you are interested in getting to know them as a person, as well as a professional. This will help them feel included, and like they formed actual connections during their few months with the organization.
  4. Stay in contact – Just because the internship is complete does not mean you have to cut connections with your intern. Using LinkedIn or email to touch base in the following months will remind them that they are still a part of the team.

Although these tips could be applied to all employee interactions, they are especially important to follow as you welcome new interns into your organization. As the manager of an intern, you have a few months to make a strong impression and have your intern walking away as a company ambassador.

Making your intern feel important, building their confidence, and being inclusive will ensure they walk away proud to share the wonderful experience they had as part of your team.


Paige Kassalen

Paige Kassalen loves to put her creativity to use by solving problems in emerging technical fields, and has been an IEEE member since 2012. After graduating with a degree in electrical engineering from Virginia Tech in 2015, Kassalen began her career with Covestro LLC. in 2015, and soon became the only American engineer working with Solar Impulse 2, the first solar-powered airplane to circumnavigate the globe. This role landed Kassalen a spot on the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 list along with feature articles in Glamour, Fast Company and the Huffington Post. After Solar Impulse, Kassalen has helped Covestro and JPMorgan Chase develop and implement strategies to embrace a range of emerging technology trends from autonomous vehicles to machine learning. In 2020, Kassalen received a Master of Information Systems Management degree from Carnegie Mellon University and now uses her problem-solving skills at an artificial intelligence startup, CrowdAI, where she leads the implementation of computer vision solutions for existing commercial customers.

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