Even though the general rule of thumb is “get them involved in real work”, truth is most companies employ them to get their dirty work cheaply.
The real challenge is to make their experience unforgettable.
Internships are, in the vast majority of the cases, the first work experience you can have. So why spending it doing worthless stuff?
I, for one, did many internships over the course of my Uni days, and most of them were crappy jobs. Reporting errors found in logs, but never fixing them; reading endless database records to manually check that migration processes ended OK, or even not having EVER to do anything for two months straight. Luckily, enough, I used that time to learn a lot of useful stuff.
I also did an internship at Technische Universität München (Germany), that compensated all the worthless internships done before: good environment, friendly people, state-of-the-art technologies, free-schedule, etc.
Now, that was an internship. And this is how it’s going to be at MarsBased.
In our case, we’re doing this by constantly transmitting our core values: simpler is better, quality over quantity, state-of-the-art technologies and enjoying life at work.
We’re also giving him a project of his own. Emilio is creating stuff. He’s taking decisions. We’re also correcting his mistakes, teaching him the theory so that he can learn by doing. And, hey, sometimes we learn from him as well!
If by the end of his internship he has learned a thing every day, learnt to value quality over quantity and looks forward to working for us or for a company similar to MarsBased, we will have successfully stood up to the challenge.