An internship is a rewarding way for students to get real-world experience and apply what they have learned in college. An internship should be designed to meet the needs and goals of both the business and students involved.
If you are considering starting an internship program there are some benefits to you as an employer. One of the many benefits is adding capacity to your current full-time employees, giving them an opportunity to work on projects that have been put on the back burner for lack of time. It is also a way to recruit future employees. In essence, you can test-drive an employee prior to hiring them full-time, making sure it is a good fit for both parties involved. Finally, interns can offer a new opinion or have an enhanced perspective on projects or ideas.
Doing an internship is also beneficial to the students involved. It can assist with building their résumés positioning them for future employment, giving them real-world experience in their field of choice, and helping them gain knowledge and skills. It can help ensure the career they choose is something they want to do full-time after they complete college. Interns also get an opportunity to meet and network with professionals in their industry, giving them future mentors.
As an employer, don’t expect your intern to be an expert in your line of business. They are doing an internship to gain experience and broaden their knowledge base. Your typical intern is not only a financial investment, but you should invest time in them as well. You need to have the expectation that it will take more time to explain a project than it might be to do it yourself.
Best practices for your internship program
- Consult your local college or university to assist with setting up your internship program.
- Review the Wage Hour Division Fact Sheet #71. This fact sheet provides general information to help determine whether interns must be paid.
- Provide a handbook to set expectations for students/employees from the start.
- Have an intern manager. Appoint a junior employee to be in charge of interns to mentor and monitor performance.
- Encourage team involvement and orient the interns to your company culture.
- Conduct exit interviews. Gather feedback on the student’s experience and assess their interest in returning.
Do you have an internship program at your place of work? If so, do you have any best practices that you find work well? We would love to hear them in the comment box below!