By Jean Roque, President, Trupp HR.
Adding an internship program is a great way to tackle some additional projects while providing students or recent college graduates an opportunity to bring their education to life and increase the credibility of their resume. Often times, companies choose to hire employees from their intern pool. At a minimum, interns are likely to spread the word about their experience with your company. Taking the time to be intentional and thoughtful with your internship program, will pay dividends to both the intern and your company.
1. Defining work assignments
If your company is contemplating an internship program, first take time to identify several activities or projects that can be assigned to interns. When selecting intern assignments, eliminate those that will require considerable training. Then, define the specific skills that interns will need to be successful in these assignments—this will help to streamline your recruitment and selection process.
2. Finding the right talent
If your organization has the resources to establish relationships with relevant university programs, it can provide an ideal opportunity to familiarize career center staff and faculty members with your organization while getting access to top internship candidates. A great alternative or complementary source of intern candidates can be found in targeted job boards. Intern job boards that provide free job postings for employers include: InternMatch, Internships.com, InternJobs.com, and LinkedIn Student Jobs.
3. Creating an intern learning toolbox
If your organization does not currently have established resources for training interns, new interns can be leveraged to define the specifics of your program. For example, as interns are trained on an activity, part of the assignment can be documenting the specific steps for use in training of future interns. Additionally, consider having each intern contribute five FAQs pertaining to your company, the assignment, or general workplace-related questions. Interns may also enjoy creating short instructional video clips.
4. Attracting top intern talent
With the hard-to-meet criteria placed upon unpaid internships, paid internships tend to be much more common and capable of attracting quality interns. When determining a wage for a paid internship, beyond meeting minimum wage requirements, employers should consider the average rate of pay for similar internships in their area. In addition to interesting projects and an appealing work environment, offering a flexible work schedule is a great way to differentiate your internship opportunity.
5. Get and provide feedback
To optimize the effectiveness of an intern’s contribution, assign a supervisor who is responsible for orienting the intern and available as their “go-to” resource. If possible, it is also helpful to provide a non-supervisor employee, ideally closer in age to the intern, who can engage as an informal resource. As the internship comes to a close, provide the performance feedback to the intern and solicit feedback from the intern regarding their experience and interest in future opportunities with your company. This step is also valuable for assessing how your internship program can be improved.
Further reading: Thinking of Hiring a Summer Intern?