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Internships are mutually beneficial to employers and the interns themselves.
Updated on September 29, 2023
Many organizations offer internships to students or young professionals seeking workplace experience. A successful internship program can enhance your employer brand, build your talent pool, and provide a leg up for people looking to begin their careers.
Internships are mutually beneficial to employers and the interns themselves.
From the interns’ perspective, they gain professional experience and knowledge, build their resumes, and forge connections with your organization that may help them get hired in the future.
From the employer’s perspective, internships provide extra help and can bring fresh perspectives to the workplace. Employers can leverage interns to tackle projects that they may not have had the opportunity or resources to address.
For example, interns are often younger than other employees and can assist with developing new ideas and keeping up with industry trends. Many organizations hire interns to help manage their social media presence, as younger hires tend to be more savvy with platforms like Instagram and TikTok.
Interns can also provide an extra set of hands during busy times. While interns may not possess the same level of expertise as full-time employees, a diligent hiring process can ensure that they are competent, receptive to learning, and eager to make valuable contributions in various areas.
This is handy for taking care of administrative tasks that would otherwise take up much of your employees’ time.
The internship duration should also provide an opportunity to assess the intern’s skills and determine whether they’d be a good fit for your organization long-term.
As interns gain new skills and become more helpful around the organization, you might come to realize that they would be excellent candidates for full-time positions.
If interns ultimately become full-time employees, you won’t need to spend as much time onboarding and training them, as they’ll already be familiar with the organization, know their coworkers, and understand procedures and protocols.
Internships are also a good opportunity for leadership development amongst your team by pairing interns with mentors or supervisors to assist with their professional development.
Besides helping educate and train interns, your team will simultaneously have the chance to develop their leadership skills and show themselves worthy of future managerial roles.
Finally, hiring interns can boost your employer brand.
When interns have a positive experience within your organization, they are likely to share it with others, enhancing your reputation as a dependable employer that provides opportunities for emerging talent.
This can make it easier to hire interns in the future, as well as full-time employees.
An internship program differs from a full or part-time job for several reasons.
Though it will benefit them to perform well, interns are primarily there to learn the ropes of your organization.
Therefore, they typically aren’t expected to come to the internship program with the skill set that would be required of regular employees. Instead, interns are to take advantage of the opportunity to learn.
Some internship programs offer an hourly wage or a stipend for the intern’s time, but this is not mandatory. Unlike employment, where the employer is legally obligated to compensate their employees, internships are viewed as learning experiences and do not require payment.
If you’re setting up an internship program, you’re probably attracted to some of the benefits listed above.
To help ensure your program accomplishes those goals, create a detailed plan for the internship program. This includes identifying objectives, developing a schedule, and determining which tasks can be delegated to interns.
A broad vision for an internship program will assist you in determining the specific tasks and responsibilities of the intern, as well as creating a plan for their supervision and guidance.
With a clear layout of the responsibilities and qualifications required by the internship, it’s time to write a job description. Be sure to include essential details upfront, such as the hours and season in which you’ll want an intern and whether or not it is compensated.
Consider providing additional benefits such as transportation allowance and meal vouchers, and comply with legal requirements regarding intern compensation.
Craft an appealing internship job description to attract candidates. Highlight the skills and experiences to be gained during the internship, company culture, and other perks.
Then, share the posting to job boards and professional networking sites such as LinkedIn and your organization’s social media feeds.
Once you have a candidate pool, review resumes and cover letters to check qualifications and personal statements.
Many internship programs don’t require candidates to have an extensive list of qualifications, as they are often students or recent graduates. Instead, look for soft skills and character traits that will translate well to the internship role.
For example, someone on the student council in high school probably has good communication and leadership skills, which will benefit them in their professional endeavors.
Many internships can be offered online, opening the opportunity to a broader candidate pool. If your internship program will be virtual, consider conducting the interview process entirely remotely.
Either way, prepare a thoughtful list of questions before you interview candidates. Interns typically have limited experience, so ask them broader questions about their background, professional aspirations, and how they respond to challenges or feedback.
Also, find out candidates’ motivations for seeking the internship, which can often indicate how much effort they’ll put into the position. Consider also preparing problem-solving questions to observe a candidate’s ability to think on their feet.
Before extending an offer to your top candidate, verify their qualifications and experience. Since they might have little experience, contact their references to gather insights about their work style, ethics, and reliability.
Finally, it’s time to extend an offer. Set up a call with the top candidate to let them know they were selected for the role and answer any questions they might have.
Again, provide clear written expectations surrounding responsibilities, scheduling, and compensation to ensure interns understand their role, time commitment, and learning opportunities.
Professional development is often the primary motivation behind seeking an internship, so be sure to include plenty of opportunities for training, education, and growth.
To keep things organized, create a training plan to enhance the intern’s skills and offer professional growth and learning opportunities. Provide constructive feedback and regular check-ins to ensure interns enjoy their experience and feel they’ve been provided the tools they need to succeed.
Developing and implementing a successful internship program requires careful planning and consideration. Here are some best practices to follow:
Determine the purpose of the internship program and align it with the overall organizational goals. Also, identify specific learning objectives for interns to ensure they gain valuable skills and knowledge and finish the program satisfied with their experience.
To the internship accomplish the goals you’ve set, develop a well-structured program with a defined timeline and expectations. Create a detailed orientation program to familiarize interns with the organization, its culture, and policies to ease their transition period onto the team.
You can chat with interns before their first day to ensure their responsibilities, tasks, and projects align with their educational background and interests.
Assign a dedicated mentor or supervisor to guide and support interns throughout their internship.
Ask their mentor to provide regular feedback and evaluation to help interns improve their skills and performance. Encouraging open communication can help create a welcoming environment where interns feel secure to self-start, ask questions, and even make mistakes as part of their learning process.
Assign interns tasks and projects that provide hands-on experience and make them feel they are contributing to the organization.
Balance challenging assignments with realistic expectations, considering the intern’s level of knowledge and experience. If possible, offer interns the opportunity to collaborate with your organization’s different departments to broaden their understanding of the company.
Providing access to training programs, workshops, or seminars that enhance interns’ skills and knowledge is highly beneficial. Beyond direct training sessions, encourage participation in company-wide meetings, events, and professional development activities.
Facilitate networking opportunities for interns to connect with professionals within the organization and encourage participation in team-building activities, social events, or networking sessions.
If you have more than one intern, promote interactions between interns to foster a sense of community and collaboration. This could be in the form of joint assignments, training sessions, or in more social settings.
Finally, conduct regular check-ins with interns to address any concerns, provide guidance, and monitor their progress. Recognize and celebrate their achievements and contributions to boost motivation and engagement.
Remember that many interns are also full-time students, so be sure to acknowledge their unique needs and schedules and accommodate academic obligations and personal commitments. Be open to adjusting work assignments or schedules to provide a positive and flexible internship experience.
As the internship draws to a close, offer guidance on resume building, interview preparation, and career advice as interns progress in their professional trajectories. Encourage them to use you as a reference, and keep in touch in case they would be a great fit for a future opportunity.
An internship program provides great opportunities for both young professionals and organizations looking to grow their talent pool.
With some thoughtfulness, your organization can create an internship experience that equips young professionals for their first full-time jobs and creates valuable connections with young talent pools.
Advertise the internship opportunity on job boards, university career centers, and social media platforms. Leverage personal and professional networks for referrals. Showcase the organization’s positive work environment and company culture.
Establish a comprehensive onboarding process to familiarize interns with the organization and their roles. Assign a dedicated supervisor or mentor to provide guidance and support, and provide training and resources necessary for the interns to succeed. It’s also important to conduct regular check-ins and provide constructive feedback throughout the internship.
Set clear performance expectations and goals at the beginning of the internship to ensure all parties are on the same page. Then, implement a performance evaluation process, such as regular assessments or feedback sessions. Constructive feedback can help interns improve their skills and performance, and be sure to recognize outstanding performance to keep interns motivated.
While compensation is not mandatory for internships, offering a fair stipend or salary can attract a wider pool of candidates. If budget constraints prevent monetary compensation, consider offering other benefits like transportation reimbursement, flexible hours, or professional development opportunities.
Consult local labor laws to understand any legal obligations regarding internships, such as minimum wage requirements or workplace safety regulations. In addition, ensure compliance with any applicable labor or employment laws specific to internships in your jurisdiction.
To ensure a beneficial experience for the organization and the intern, provide meaningful and challenging work assignments that align with the intern’s goals and interests. This will keep them engaged in their work and result in higher productivity, benefiting the organization. Encourage open communication, provide opportunities for learning, and foster a supportive and inclusive work environment that values the intern’s contributions.