Interns are the perfect solution to bring new talent and fresh perspectives to your organization. Organizations are now having interns work on meaningful projects to see the extent of their talent, rather than the old school thought of just making them responsible for coffee runs. When timing is right, their roles often lead to job offers being extended.
If you haven’t had a formal internship program, or are looking to better the experience for your interns, it’s important to develop a strong foundation and strategy for them to be successful. A good internship program not only benefits the interns but helps your business by attracting forward-thinking individuals as potential talent to add to your permanent team.
Here are 4 ways to help build and develop and successful internship program:
Make the Program and Process Selective- Align your prospective intern hires education and experience with the goals of the company and role you would like them to support. This is equally as important, as when you hire regular full-time employees, to develop a successful and enduring internship program. For each intern position, evaluate the skills you are looking for before you interview candidates.
Provide Interns an Opportunity to Complete Meaningful Work- Internships aren’t just for paper-pushing and organizing files. Interns should be provided the opportunity to complete meaningful work. This not only benefits the intern, but the company as well, offering a fresh perspective on tasks. While it might be frightening to pass off something of importance to an intern- many organizations have found that they more often than not exceed expectations with the quality of work they deliver.
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Create a Learning Network- With each intern cohort you have, allow them to create manuals that discuss what the internship program looks like. This allows you to create an on-boarding manual for your incoming intern classes. Additionally, a learning network for interns allows you to organize work activities, tasks, and goals in a centralized location to iterate on future programs. Think of it as a performance tracking space, but for your interns. Not only will this give them a taste for objectives and key performance indicators, but will allow you to see where individuals are excelling or need additional mentoring.
Camaraderie and Fun-While having interns allows a business to hand off day-to-day tasks so full-time employees can focus on larger strategic projects, it’s also important to create an enjoyable internship experience. You want your current interns to spread the word about your program so you can continue to attract talented individuals. If you consistently hold internships over the summer or winter break, think about how to incorporate internship team building events and activities. Do interns get swag at their on-boarding? Just as you seek to ensure the applicant-to-new hire process is flawless and engaging for your employees, look to do the same for your interns.
Creating an internship program can take time and resources, however, the ROI of having interns as an extra set of hands will provide new insights and creativity to your organization that will certainly pay off.