Human Resources

Be Flexible and Encouraging: More Intern Management Guidelines

By Nick Morpus

In yesterday’s Advisor, Capterra Inc.’s Nick Morpus described two of his five guidelines for managing interns at your organization. Today, Morpus elaborates on the final three guidelines.

3. Flexibility and Understanding Is Key

Chances are, your interns are “wet-behind-the-ears” college graduates with minimal office working experience. they are guaranteed to make more mistakes than seasoned employees.

This also ties into finding interns’ strengths and weaknesses. Interns are prone to occasionally choosing the wrong task for themselves because of their inexperience. They will eventually learn their own limitations and find their niche, leading them to succeed.

The mark of any true leader is the ability to work with new or difficult teammates and find a way for those teammates to succeed.

Having flexibility, patience, and understanding is key to teaching your interns and putting them on a path to finding their goals in their career.

4. Encouraging Your Interns

There is nothing enjoyable about failing, but it has been shown that positive reinforcement has a higher return on investment than negative reinforcement. While your interns learn the ropes, encouragement is helpful to make them feel comfortable with learning new skills at your organization.

The fear of failure (or of being fired) greatly undermines performance on the job, and you can rest assured that your interns are going to have a higher fear of failure than your seasoned employees.

Don’t mistake encouragement with coddling. Giving second chances for honest mistakes is important, but following your interns around every step of the way is not helpful in their development. Turn situations of temporary failure into lessons on how to succeed in the future, and show them what they could’ve done differently.

Just like a school student, providing encouragement but giving them space to experiment is the sweet spot for your interns to learn.

5. Providing Incentives to Your Interns

Interns don’t wake up in the morning to work this temporary position at your company for their health; they do it because they feel like their time is worth the benefits that come with the learning experience. As their supervisor, it is important to provide incentives for your interns to work hard for you.

When I worked as an intern, my incentives were the possibilities to learn useful skills and earn recommendations from my superiors in order to secure a future job. Even short-term incentives, such as prizes, were a nice added bonus. If I made X amount of phone calls or was able to bring X amount of people to a future event, I was given prizes of books or even extra cash.

When incentivizing your interns, make sure it is something that they can realize will benefit them either in the short or long term. Offering letters of recommendation or phone references to a future employer can be that extra push needed to get the results you want. Internships are about opening doors in the future, and you can be that hand that helps open the door for your interns.


If you follow this guide, you will be surprised by the results your interns provide during their time at your company. These are not seasoned employees; they are temporary students to the workforce. Treat them as such.