Management 101: How one millennial learned to manage millennial interns

Jessica Levco

This summer, Ragan Communications got lucky—we landed three, top-notch, highly qualified interns to help churn out copy for our online sites and print pubs.

I got to help manage each of their daily activities.

I’d like to think that each one learned a little something about the writing and editing process. But what they don’t know is how much I learned from them—especially when it comes to managing.

Here are seven ways you can help your interns have a successful internship at your company:

Remember what it’s like being an intern. Do you remember your worst interning experience? Think about what made it so awful—and don’t inflict the same amount of pain on the next generation. Then again, if you’ve only had positive interning experiences, you should think about what made that internship special and see if you can do the same for someone else.

Lead them in the right direction. Interns can’t read your mind—and you shouldn’t expect them (or anybody else) to. So, when you give them a task, tell them what you’re looking for. But give them enough room to find the answers on their own. If they need help, they’ll ask you.

Give interns something tangible to work on. Especially if you’re not paying your interns, you need to figure out how to make the intern experience worth it for them. Make sure you are giving them assignments that can improve their resume. You don’t want one of their bullet points to be, “Delivered gourmet cups of coffee to the editorial staff on a daily basis.”

Make it enjoyable. Ask your interns what they want out of the internship. Or at the very least, ask them what they like to do. It’s your job to try to make their internship interesting. For example, one intern loved watching hospital rap videos; another liked to write about sports; and the other worked on expanding our Millennial Mafia empire.

Delegate. When you’re in-charge of managing your own schedule nine months out of the year, it can be challenging to re-structure your work-flow. Before your interns come to the office, write a list of your daily tasks and decide what responsibilities an intern can take on. An intern shouldn’t do your work for you, but their contributions should make it easier for you to do your work.

Be a good reference. Keep track of what each intern is doing. That way, if they want a reference letter or their future employer calls you, you’ll be able to give a glowing recommendation.

Let them go.It can be hard to say goodbye, especially after you’ve become a pro at delegating assignments. But hopefully, if the experience was good for them, they’ll want to come back to your company next summer.

Your first real job: 4 tips from a millennial

By Kristin Piombino

Congratulations to all the new college grads out there!

Toss your tasseled hat into the air; take last-minute pictures of all the campus landmarks; and stay out all night with your friends at your favorite bar because in a few weeks, you’ll be sitting behind a desk with a Real Person Job.

But don’t worry.

As a May 2010 grad, I can assure you that joining the workforce as a millennial can almost be as much fun as college.

Almost.

As one of the newest millennials to join Ragan’s Millennial Mafia, I wanted to share what I learned during my first month on the job.

1. Seize opportunities, even if it’s not ‘work’ related

If someone invites you to lunch, go. If there’s a networking event on Friday night, go. If the person in the neighboring cubicle asks you to join the workout group after work on Wednesday, go.

Get to know the people you’re working with. Not only will you have friends and enjoy going to work every day, you will feel more comfortable around your co-workers and be more inclined to share your ideas.

The faster you can start contributing, the better.

2. Don’t turn your work in late

Keep track of your to-do list, meeting schedule and upcoming projects. Why? If you don’t get something done on time, other people’s projects could be affected. This is much worse than getting docked a letter grade.

Also, communicate openly with your boss. If you have a long-term project, let your boss know your progress and when he or she can expect it to be finished. This shows that you’re reliable and hard working.

3. School’s out! But the learning never stops

No matter what the job is, you won’t know all of the material you’re going to need on day one. Be prepared to learn. As a writer and editor, I’m currently learning basic HTML. Maybe you will have to learn a new technology or another language. Whatever it is, be ready to take a lot of notes, ask questions and master it.

4. Go beyond the first impression

Your first impression doesn’t end when you ace the interview and accept the job offer. The first few weeks on the job are essential for proving yourself. Show that you’re excited to be there and that you’re willing to work hard. Take initiative on extra projects, work quickly and be friendly with your co-workers. You’ll prove that you’re dependable and hard working, and quickly gain more responsibility and interesting assignments.