NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- If your company offers internships for college students or recent grads, you know how much time and energy goes into providing a vibrant, structured work experience.
From the initial tutorial on company culture and performance expectations to the teaching of best practices for each task, interns are a huge investment for full-time staffers.
Thankfully, a well-trained intern can be an asset to any company, helping boost the bottom line with fresh ideas and an eager can-do attitude. We checked in with experts to find the five best ways interns can pitch in this summer and earn their keep.
1. Have them clean out databases and set up a file-sharing system.Many interns, because of their digital prowess, can easily set up systems for collaboration and sharing data, says Nancy A. Shenker, author of Don't Hook Up With the Dude in the Next Cube: 200+ Career Secrets for 20-Somethings. "In the short time our intern has been on board, I've spent a lot less time looking for stuff," says Shenker of her own experience with a younger part-timer. Shenker says interns can be an asset cleaning up company databases and getting rid of outdated files -- just don't forget to make sure your full-time staffers have a firm grasp on what's happening before the intern heads back to college. If your interns should discover some treasures while they're exploring old files, Chuck Pappalardo, managing director of executive search firm Trilogy Search, says they should be put to work on bigger projects. "Research is a critical component of business today and a skill set that most students have honed," Pappalardo says. "In addition to uncovering information, an intern can develop creative ways to visually present the data." 2. Have them conduct and serve as research for your target market. In many cases, interns in their late teens and early twenties are part of a demographic companies want to target. If your company sells clothing, makes technology or has a presence in the digital space, interns can be a real asset when it comes to product development, says Jason Henham, managing director of Slate Consulting, a small business consultancy. "If interns form part of the company's target market, take advantage of the intern's network of potential customers by allowing them to use the product, share information on it or provide direct feedback on improving it and customer service surrounding it," Henham says. Companies could also benefit from using interns to conduct research that results in direct contact with buyers from the target market, he adds. "For example, interns can administer surveys or conduct interviews with people from the target market and compile the results, leading to a white paper that can be shared with the market."