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Summer Internship Advice for Startups

I often joke with Kyle York and Joe Raczka that it’s a good thing we founded York IE, because with all the talent on our team, we’re not even qualified to get a summer internship at the company now.

Five new interns have started at York IE, and once again I am blown away by the talented students we’ve been able to attract. As a company we move fast and are ambitious, which means we have real and important work that we’ll be having our interns do. It should be a great experience for them.

Of course, no matter how talented the intern, a company plays a big role in their success. I remember discovering one of my interns, who we affectionately nicknamed Captain Ginseng because of the amount of Monster Energy drinks he consumed, sleeping on a couch in a conference room. This didn’t say much for the energy drink. It also didn’t say much for my mentorship skills. But over the years I’ve discovered a few things that can help make a summer internship a true win-win.

Look for interns everywhere. Internships help create opportunities. Kyle became the head of sales at the company he interned at. Not everyone is exposed to the same opportunities. A summer internship is a good way to take a chance on someone. If you do that, you’ll often be rewarded tenfold for that faith.

Coach them up. Interns are an investment. You need to be willing to invest your time in helping them learn and improve. But it is always worth it. Not only does it create a strong pipeline of future full-time talent, but it also means you’re taking what you’ve worked so hard to learn and passing it on. That’s just good karma.

The best teacher is experience. Make sure you’re providing guardrails, but then let them fail. The only way you really learn is by doing, and a real-world environment is way more beneficial than any mock classroom scenario. So give your interns meaningful work, but also cultivate an environment where they feel comfortable to challenge themselves, knowing you’ll support them whatever the outcome.

Following these simple suggestions can help ensure that your summer interns inject a jolt of energy into your company that is far more effective than anything Monster Energy could provide.

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