Starting a summer internship program is an excellent way to foster success for your company. Interns bring enthusiasm, new ideas, social media savvy, specialized skills, the latest knowledge and a fresh perspective. They reduce employee workload, increase productivity and provide access to the latest techniques and technology. An internship program is an effective tool for cultivating a pool of candidates for future positions. There are so many benefits! But, creating a program may seem intimidating. Following are some basic steps for implementing a successful summer internship program.
Research existing internships programs: Observe what works and what does not. How long are the programs? How much do they pay their interns? How many hours do interns work per week? What do they provide their interns? What type of work is assigned to interns?
Evaluate your company’s needs: Where does your organization need the most help? What do you hope to gain? How many interns could you accommodate? What is your budget? What projects will you assign? What is your ideal length of an internship program?
Get support from your personnel: Get everyone on board; the CEO, senior management, junior management, employees. Inform them of the multitude of benefits that your company will reap from the program.
Develop a program: Create a structure including: orientation process, learning objectives, goals, roles, short and long term projects, daily responsibilities, assessment tools, supervisor assignments, evaluation procedures, policies, expectations, off-boarding procedure and project assignments.
Delegate responsibilities: Assign an internship program coordinator. On top of their usual responsibilities, this employee will promote the position, collect resumes, assist in hiring, conduct an orientation, undertake intern training, provide career advice, assess intern performance and evaluate the program.
Create a job description: Decide on the objectives of the job(s) and define the skills/traits/qualifications needed to meet these objectives. Your list should contain a mix of well-defined abilities (i.e. knowledge needed, specific computer skills required), personality characteristics (i.e. team player, approachable, self-motivated) and qualifications (i.e. area of study, year of study, courses taken, career goals). Include information regarding how the program will benefit the student.
Post the position: Endeavour to create simple, concrete, attractive and accurate job ads in order to attract qualified candidates. Place your postings with the career services offices of local schools and /or colleges. Consider obtaining a reference for your business from a local college professor/staff member.
Interview and hire: Conduct the interviews, perform background checks and contact references. Hire the top contenders.
Provide training: Have your internship program coordinator provide an orientation and begin the onboarding process. If possible, provide interns with a handbook of procedures and processes.
Assign a buddy: Assign each intern a junior-level employee as a mentor. This relaxed relationship helps the intern navigate the new job, provides personalized feedback, promotes professional growth, allows consistent observation of progress and creates the opportunity for the intern to ask questions.
Provide consistent feedback: Have a weekly managers meeting to review each intern’s work, communicate how they are performing, and develop a list of duties for the next week. Have a weekly meeting with each intern to communicate assignments, expectations, feedback and appreciation. Encourage them to ask questions.
Encourage participation in social events: Help interns feel part of the team by encouraging them to attend scheduled outings and social gatherings.
Stay connected: Maintain a connection with former interns, as you may offer them employment upon graduation.
With a little planning you can set up a summer internship program that meets the needs of your business and allows you to reap the multitude of benefits interns provide. Monitor the success of your project and adjust as needed. Once you’re satisfied with the results, repeating the procedure each summer becomes simple and enjoyable.
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