Joan Kwiatkowski, CEO of CareLink and PACE Organization of RI, weighs in on internships.
Q.What is the main reason you host interns at your organization?
A. Professional growth for our staff and the intern, build the workforce with better prepared workers and expose students to the good work of nonprofit health care.
Q. What are the top three ways your organization benefits from interns?
A. 1) Staff who supervise interns learn how to teach and mentor 2) bigger projects can be divided and completed quicker and better 3) we hire them for permanent jobs
Q. What is the most challenging part of structuring an internship program?
A. Insuring a sound learning experience with credible and resume-worthy experience and selecting interns who are sincere about their commitment to learn and try.
Q. Have you have a favorite intern? What about that person most impressed you?
Truly we have had many wonderful interns- we are most proud when we hear back from them telling us their work for us was what landed them a great job or acceptance to graduate school. We have met our goal of building one individual and adding talent to the whole workforce.
Q. Do you pay your interns? Why or why not?
We do. We also have student interns through various colleges and they are not paid. But we hire two interns every summer and we do pay them a reasonable wage for an entry professional.
Q. Who do you think benefits the most from interns?
Everyone- from the intern to the staff to the friends of the intern- we find one good experience with one intern results in good will, good work and long term networking benefits.
Q. What are five words you would use to best describe interns?
A. Fast, eager, reliable, flexible and respectful
Q. How did your internship program get started?
We have always had student learners through colleges but I added interns because I feel strongly about building talented future health care professionals. Someone has to take care of my generation! Interns bring an energy and fresh perspective that keeps all of us on our toes. My staff recently learned about new phone “apps” that really helped their efficiency! These moments are when I know the effort is all worthwhile.
Q. What is the most challenging part of supervising interns?
You have to match interns to staff who are interested in teaching and coaching. It’s a disaster if the employee is not a willing spirit to the task. But the agency has an obligation to create a worthwhile experience- supervising a busy intern is easier than one given less challenging and rewarding tasks.
Q. How do you use internships as a recruiting tool?
We just do- interns will know about postings before ads are public- and we get to know if an intern has the right interest and talent making any permanent transition easier.