Designing an internship program that is a win-win for both the organization and the intern is not as challenging as you may think. To design a program that is a true value-add to the company as well as an enriching experience for the intern, a little planning goes a long way. A few important elements of any successful internship program include:
Begin With the End in Mind
What is the desired end result of the internship for the organization? For the intern? What skills and experience will the intern gain from completing the internship? What business goals are the internship helping to achieve? Answering these questions will provide the foundation for your program and specific project objectives.
Project Planning is a MUST
Prior to the intern’s first day on the job, it is important to outline what her responsibilities and learning opportunities will be during the internship. Setting expectations for daily responsibilities as well as short and long-term projects is imperative to keeping you and your intern focused.
You’ve heard it over and over. Communicate, communicate, communicate! Communication is often the number one reason projects and people succeed or fail. Once you have your intern’s project plan in place, make sure you set regular, weekly one-on-ones to review his progress, keep him focused, and offer professional mentoring on issues as they arise.
Evaluate and Improve
To improve, it is imperative to learn what has worked and what has not in the past. At the end of your intern’s tenure, conduct a formal exit interview to gain insight into her experience. Equally important is to have the intern’s direct manager complete an evaluation of the intern’s performance on the project goals, learning objectives, and overall value-add to the organization. This information is beyond valuable as you continue to refine your program.
Internships are a great way for your business to add an extra pair of hands to a big project and gain a fresh perspective. Plus, it is a great way to “test drive” talent for future full-time opportunities! With a little planning upfront, you can receive valuable resources for your needs of today and craft a strong reputation as an employer-of-choice for students of tomorrow.
Need assistance designing an internship program? Email us or give us a call at 703-587-5615. We thrive on helping our clients implement enriching experiences for their employees and businesses. We’d love to do the same for you.