Interns are far more than just temporary recruits brought aboard to finish all the menial jobs piling up around the office. In many cases, there are laws preventing this kind of treatment – the sorts of laws stipulating that interns must complete ‘meaningful labor’ and that’s inscribed by that terminology.
Recently, I was approached by an eager hotelier looking to get the most of her shiny new summer intern fresh from a premier university. This hotelier was in essence seeking a road map to help direct her own efforts in guiding the intern on a path of meaningful labor. After some deliberation, I gave her eight questions to aid in her treatment of this intern. Given that summer is upon us, these are seven that I will share with you as well.
1. Do you have an overall plan for the intern? In other words, what do you hope the intern will learn during his or her short time with you? I say ‘overall’ because this is meant to be answered in a brief and quite broad sense, acting as a logline of sorts that you can come back to whenever things veer off course. Obviously, a large part of this will come from the interns themselves, in terms of what they have previously agreed to do for you and what they hope to accomplish.
2. Do you have a clear orientation program? In other words, how are you introducing the intern to the intricacies of your organization? For starters, you might consider having one member of each department agree to show said intern each respective area of operations for a few hours. Interns should also spend a night or two as guests so they gain a different perspective on how the property functions.
3. Who is supervising the intern? Whether it’s one designated employee or shift-work, you cannot leave an intern unsupervised until they know the ropes. And knowing the ropes definitely won’t come before the completion of an orientation program. In most cases, it won’t even come before the summer is over and done. When the intern is ready for autonomous labor, start them off with specific tasks that they have already been trained to handle.
4. What can they write for you? Writing in all its various forms is definitely under the purview of ‘meaningful’. So, get your interns working on reports that will not only improve their own writing skills but also serve to aid aspects of your operations. For instance, have them scout the local competition and prepare a comparative analysis. Or, have them review your website in relation to others with the hope of pointing out opportunities for improvement. A rate analysis is another worthy project, looking at specific time frames with comparisons and recommendations.
5. Can you help you with TripAdvisor? Have your intern audit your property’s TripAdvisor business page. Then, train them on how to properly respond to good and bad reviews.
6. What can they do to help you plan promotions? Young minds are full of creative ideas, while interns’ rookie outsider statuses ensure that they will provide some insights your managers have likely been conditioned to not even consider. Have your interns review past promotions so that they understand what is operationally feasible, and then connect them with your marketing and reservations teams so they can learn how best to sell your property.
7. Do you have a departure gift ready? It doesn’t have to be expensive, but just like the nature of their work, the gift should also be meaningful. Always end relationships on a good note as you never know when you will meet again!
(Article by Larry Mogelonsky, published in eHotelier on May 27, 2015)