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According to info extracted from Wiseessays, most of its contributors are self-taught freelancers.  For most people on most occasions, the learn-by-doing method is vastly superior to juggling abstractions in your mind.

In the past, Academia was reserved for the most abstract sciences. Most jobs fell under the label of “crafts” and the knowledge was passed down every generation via practice, not schooling.

This method of training new people was called an apprenticeship, and it worked wonders for the majority of human history. Unlike universities that demanded the student sit down, shut up, and take notes, apprentices learned on the go. 

The difficulty level would increase gradually until you were qualified to replace your teacher. But what does this have to do with internships? Well, internships are much more similar to apprenticeships than being a student. Thus, there is a lot to be learned from past lessons.

1.  Lay the groundwork

Companies can range in size from small convenience stores to massive multinational corporations. The larger firms often function like small countries, with their own terminology, language, celebrations, and events.

Similar to how lawyers eventually speak “legalese”, so too, your interns must be familiarized with corporate-speak and corporate structure.

This is not just a formality, but a vital part of the process. First, the company will be in full legal compliance after all of the initial forms are signed. Second, you will encourage everyone to think.

To have perspective, you need to be aware of more than what is right in front of your face. Otherwise, the internship process will just result in a trained drone that has memorized a single task.

If the intern has a functioning generalized knowledge of the way, you do business, then the results will dramatically increase.

2.  Fight ambiguity at every turn

Some employers and managers like to dangle the future promise of raises and promotions, only to get the intern to put in 110%. We’ve all heard it: “for now, I can’t pay you much, but in the future, your earnings will increase greatly”.

Most seasoned employees have learned to ignore such statements and have the wisdom to only rely on what is put in writing. Yet, we are talking about interns here. A company or employer may find himself in the situation of losing their most promising employees due to said employee’s disappointment with his pay.

The entire internship process should be as transparent and predictable as possible. The words “hope” and “we will see” should be taken out of your manager’s vocabulary. In addition, the company must dedicate some of its resources from financial and HR to explain to the interns exactly how much there is to pay.

Depending on your country, taxes, discounts, and benefits can get hard to understand. You will avoid a lot of trouble by informing your interns.

3.  Only experience matters

The modern world has a problem. It teaches every job as an academic job, and every person alive as an aspiring academic. It used to be the case that 12 years of non-stop schooling was enough, but nowadays many views high-school diplomas with the same respect as an autographed napkin.

Going to college is the new high school; it is considered the new mandatory minimum. This treatment should be reserved for hyper-specialized professions such as psychics, engineering, and medicine. However, an overwhelming number of jobs are learned by simply doing them.

By the tens of millions, people discover that their degrees are useless, and experience is much more important.

This is not an argument against hiring college grads. Society is as it is, and it is not going to change soon. The more important aspect is to not treat your interns as students.

They just spent 16 years of their lives doing nothing but memorizing. The time to test their theoretical knowledge was during the interview. If they got this far, spare them from the infantilization of not letting them touch anything.

Similar to our craftsman/apprenticeship analogy earlier, they should be given actual real-life work within the company.

Of course, their contributions and methods will be monitored closely. This is the only way to gain the most important resource in the world: experience.

Mentoring and training people has never been easy, but the practical approach has yet to be beaten.

4.  Internationalism and culture shock

As the world gets smaller, we get to work and live with people who have different cultural backgrounds. This situation can be an HR nightmare; a minefield of speech codes, challenged assumptions, and much more.

Language also has to be tailored. Of course, one of the requirements of participating in most corporate internships is to be fluent in English. However, it is possible to know the official version of a language from school, but not know local sayings, expressions, and turns of phrase.

The employer should try to make the language as neutral as possible, while not losing their warmth and supportive nature.


The key takeaway when instructing interns is to realize that these people are not children or students. They are your co-workers, and attempts must be made to involve them in the process as much as possible.

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