The Importance of Feedback Loops for Internship Programs
As an employer, you want your internship program to be the best it can be; a more attractive program will draw more talented and more interested interns to your company in the future, a more productive program will benefit your bottom line, and a more thorough program will produce more employable candidates at the end of their internships—regardless of whether you eventually hire them.
The secret to improving your internship program over time is to create a feedback loop, which you can use to mutually improve your business and your existing interns.
What Is a Feedback Loop?
A feedback loop is any system or process in your organization that allows for mutual sending and receiving of feedback. Essentially, you’ll give your intern feedback on their work regularly, and they’ll respond with feedback on your program (as well as its execution).
How Feedback Helps Interns
Interns need feedback because they’re new to the professional world, and they need guidance on their performance. Feedback will help them become more productive and valuable to your organization, and will better equip them for the professional world after their internship. Most millennials crave regular feedback, but only 19 percent actually get it—so do what you can to give your interns the feedback they need for self-development.
How Feedback Helps You
You’re the one who designed your internship program, so you likely have biases that preclude you from finding ways to improve it. How would you know if your program doesn’t train new interns efficiently, or if it doesn’t offer diverse enough opportunities, unless an intern in the program actually tells you? Getting feedback allows you to make improvements that make your program more appealing in the future, and more capable of producing capable candidates.
If you’re not sure where to start, consider utilizing an existing employee performance review document (or template you can find), and modifying it for the specific internship. You can use this rubric to evaluate your intern at regular intervals (such as every other week) for the duration of your first internship, and then modify it for use in the future based on those experiences.
For incoming feedback, leave things open-ended; give your interns the chance to talk to you in person about their feelings on the program, and create an atmosphere of open communication so they feel comfortable giving you their honest opinions.