An internship is, in a way, an extended interview. It gives both the company and the intern a deeper look into what makes the other tick, gauge how well they fit together, and assess whether a prolonged engagement will be beneficial.
The lack of a standard, established framework to manage internships, though, has created a system rife with horror stories of exploitation and mutually terrible experiences. With just a few tweaks your company can eliminate the majority of these pain points while also gaining access to a pool of enthusiastic and talented prospective future employees.
Too many companies have such little regard for internships that they do not have a dedicated point of contact to coordinate them. Not only does this introduce an element of inconsistency into the internship program, but it also contributes to a lack of direction for both parties.
There is no need for you to create a full-time position for this role; it can easily be handled by one or two existing team members. Rather than appointing candidates, it is considerably more conducive to ask for volunteers for a role such as this.
Firstly, your candidates are more likely to have a nurturing mindset and, thus, also more likely to put the necessary effort into identifying the right candidates and assisting them. Secondly, voluntary participation will largely preclude excuses about not fulfilling any responsibilities in their primary role.
Many firms use mentorship as a means of building up junior team members but it is just as effective – if not more – when used in conjunction with an internship program. Mentors provide their mentees with personalized guidance and feedback, an approach that can help interns find their footing quickly in both the company and the industry.
A viable alternative if senior team members are not comfortable heading a mentorship is to use the buddy system. This pairs the intern with a junior team member who can empathize more closely with their struggles because they may not be that far removed from the same circumstances. Monitor these pairings more closely so that both of them benefit from the relationship.
It may seem convenient to take your foot off the pedal when dealing with an internship program but there must be established goals and targets within its framework. This infuses the intern’s tenure with a sense of purpose and, ultimately, of achievement as they strive towards – and achieve – real-world objectives.
Prepare a roadmap to success to guide every intern in the time that they work with your company. It should set out a clear beginning, middle and end that takes them through a valid career arc, no matter the duration of the internship.
Any company that has interns on the clock is obliged to follow all relevant laws and regulations. These legal requirements cover compensation, the type of roles interns may perform, the hours they may work, as well as a range of other matters. Ensure that your internship coordinators are familiar with them to protect your organization from unintended consequences.
Reach out today for assistance developing a supportive, healthy, and mutually beneficial internship program.