Do you work with interns in your company? As a leader, are you able to motivate people to contribute to your company even if they are not being paid?
In the picture below I’m with my nice team of interns: Boris Vasilev (a Software Developer), Denis Laevskiy (a Data Scientist), Peter Lunev (a Software Developer) and Roman Fomintsov (a QA Engineer). They don’t get a salary, but even so they are giving us a big contribution. What is the secret?
Without a concrete payment, the main extrinsic motivation they can get from their internship are the relevant experience and the possibility to mention our company in their CVs. But this is not sufficient.
As any other collaborator, interns also need intrinsic motivation, in the form of Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose:
Autonomy means that people should have some level of control about how they perform their jobs. In other words, workplaces should avoid having strict rules and allow employees to have some freedom. This is reflected very well in a quote by Steve Jobs: “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”
Mastery is the feeling that we are acquiring new skills, learning new subjects and developing our potential. In other words, employees should be able to grow while performing their jobs. At the same time that they are executing work-related tasks, they should feel that they are improving their capacity to perform these tasks.
Purpose is achieved when employees understand the importance of their work, and believe that they are contributing significantly to reach their project’s goals. In general a true feeling of purpose requires the employees to identify with the company’s vision and mission statements. They can only be really engaged and motivated when they feel part of something bigger.
Thus, as a leader, first of all I need to make sure that our interns do not feel different from the other employees in the company. I must guarantee that our interns will also have a sense of Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.
But interns are special because they deserve more Attention and more Contact with the other employees. This attention and contact enable them to have a very rich and valuable experience, according to their expectations.
Regarding Attention, we must make sure that the interns are always able to make progress in their tasks and that there are no obstacles. Interns require more attention than more experienced employees because they may be ashamed to ask for help. But we must be very careful to avoid micromanagement.
It is also very important for interns to have Contact with other members of the team, including people that are not directly related to the tasks they are performing. These interactions among the interns and other collaborators in the company is a very relevant experience for them, and in general the interns really enjoy talking to co-workers who can provide them valuable insights.
I would like to thank my partners Eli Berger and Jake Gillis from Israel Experience, Maaian Plescov from Israel Tech Challenge (ITC), Tal Yaron from iNT College – Institute of Innovation and Technology and Or Adi from TAMID Group. We really appreciate that over the years you have sent us such nice interns.
I must say that my experience working with the interns is very pleasurable. I don’t really understand all these managers that complain about working with Millennials. If I can motivate a young person working for free, I guess any competent manager should be able to obtain good results from young people that also have a nice salary.
I strongly believe in what you wrote. It is a pleasure to work with you bringing up future developers in such an atmosphere.
Dear Hayim, thank you very much for the great opportunity you give to our interns! I greatly appreciate your support for the professional growth of our interns from Israel Experiense Masa program and the significant contribution that our interns (Boris, Peter and Roman) make to your company. They prove themselves to be smart professionals who constantly continue to develop their skills.
Have you considered paying them as well? There might be well-qualified candidates that don’t have the financial means to work for free.