Q. What should I do if our intern isn’t meeting the goals set at the beginning of the internship?

May 27, 2010 at 11:23 am Leave a comment

by the Intern Coach

A. The sooner you correct this situation the better. You have two main options:  (1) either help the intern reorganize or restructure in order to meet the goals, or (2) change the goals and reset new ones with the help of your intern to ensure that he/she can meet them. Here are some tips to help you decide which option is the better solution: 

  • Schedule a meeting with the intern’s immediate supervisor to create a specific list of unmet goals. Try to discover if there were any extenuating circumstances, such as the intern called in sick, the computer system was down, the necessary meeting was cancelled, reports were lost etc. Also, look for any personality issues that may be causing problems. Does the intern perform the work incorrectly because he/she doesn’t ask questions first?  Are the directions clear? Is the intern working too slowly or talking too much resulting in missed deadlines and unmet goals?
  • Now that you have one side of the story, set a meeting with the intern to explore the intern’s version of why goals are not being met. The intern may be unaware of the situation and think he/she is doing an excellent job. Or the intern may have been too intimidated by his/her supervisor to ask clarifying questions, not wanting to appear dumb or unprepared. If the intern is keeping a daily journal on work activities, ask him/her to share the journal with you, so you can assess the problem. You may discover that the intern is unhappy with the assignments, co-workers, supervisor, or even the company, which is compromising his/her performance.
  • Based on the information that you’ve collected from both parties, you may want to suggest a new set of goals that are compatible with the intern and the supervisor. If you do recommend new goals, don’t blame anyone for the failure of the first set. You may even want to ask the intern to create his/her own new goals, based on his/her knowledge of the company. You can be sure that these goals will be met since the intern has full ownership.
  • If you don’t want to establish new goals, you could assign a mentor to help the intern get back on track. The mentor could be a more senior intern or a junior employee that could empathize with the intern’s inexperience. Whatever you do, don’t fire your intern; you’ll only generate anger from the intern and confusion from the school. Everyone involved will appreciate your successful efforts in solving the problem—and goals will then be met.

Entry filed under: Intern Goals, intern management. Tags: , , , .

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This blog is dedicated to employers with a focus on how to hire and manage interns effectively. We will have a variety of experts who will share helpful ideas, tips and more. We invite you to comment, ask questions and share your experiences. You are also welcome to submit written contributions to this blog.

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