04/29/17 By Jennifer Brown

Internship programs can be a real benefit for both company and intern. For example,

• Employee productivity levels increase and bandwidth expands when interns are on board. Always good to have more hands on deck!
• Employers have a talent pool at their fingertips when job openings arise. Internships are a great way to “test drive” the intern to see if he or she would be a fit long-term.
• Interns have creative and fresh ideas – enhancing the perspective of your work teams.
• Offering internships is a great way to get your company’s name out to current and future talent.
• Interns receive real-world, hands on experience in their field of choice.

However, a successful program needs structure, proper planning, and resources. If starting from scratch, the first step is to determine what an internship at your organization will look like – definitely not a one-size-fits-all approach. Your internship program should speak your company’s language, provide a real benefit back into the organization, and service your community. Before you start drafting the framework of your internship program, review the following:

Know Your Target Market
What do today’s college students look for in an internship? As we’ve seen with Millennials, the way they view the workplace differs somewhat from the generations before them. Whether it is how they view their career path as fluid versus locked in or their heavy emphasis on company culture, understanding this dynamic is critical when structuring an internship program. Ask yourself…How can your company provide these experiences and benefits to attract the best young talent?

Organizational Need
Which departments or areas of your company would benefit most from having an intern? What ad hoc or ongoing projects would be a good fit? Is there a time of year that would be best to have an intern or do rotating internships throughout the year make more sense? Develop a strategy that positions the intern to best support your organizational goals and objectives. 

Know the Rules about Internships and Pay
If you are considering not paying interns…be sure you do your research first. The federal government has issued criteria to help companies determine if an internship can be unpaid and some states have additional rules about not paying interns.  To learn more, visit the Department of Labor website.

Once you have these answers, you can begin outlining your program’s framework – bringing it to life. The benefits of an internship program are endless for both parties. What are you waiting for?

Need help structuring your internship program? Email us or give us a call at 703-587-5615. We help our clients design and implement programs that speak to their unique culture and organizational needs. We would love to do the same for you.