5 elements of an internship learning contract

Internships are widely recognized as being effective vehicles for students and recent graduates to gain valuable, practical hands-on experience in the workplace. At the same time, internships offer companies opportunities to vet future potential job candidates, and to secure additional temporary worker resources to get them through seasonal up shifts in labor needs. In short, internships represent a win-win scenario in the work environment.

When you make the decision to acquire an intern for your company’s workforce needs, your human resources department will need to assemble what is called an “internship learning contract.” Although no long-term employment is agreed upon or implied when you hire someone as an intern, a contract is a good idea (and required by school if the internship is for credit) so that both parties can legally agree to the nature of the employment relationship.

There are five essential elements of an internship learning contract, as outlined below.

1. Objectives

In order for the internship to be successful, the objectives of the internship must be clearly expressed, for both the student and the company. You know that your employees would flounder without a clear outline of your organization’s expectations, and their objectives during the workday. It’s the same with any interns you hire. Your learning contract should outline what the student can expect to gain from the internship regarding skills learned and experience acquired.

2. Resources and Activities

This element of the learning contract should detail what resources and activities will be made available to the intern in order to help them achieve the objectives. Will they be given a workstation with a computer? Will they accompany senior workers out in the field? This is the section to include as much information as possible about resources and activities.

3. Tasks and Assignments

This section should explain specific tasks the intern will be asked to complete during the term of their internship. If you have ongoing projects that you want the intern to help with, this is where you include some details about those projects, their role on the project team, and the tasks they’ll be responsible for accomplishing.

4. Term Length

The learning contract should have a specific beginning and ending date that both parties agree to. If you’re unsure of the ending date, it’s still best to name a specific ending date, but you can add a provisional clause in this section along the lines of, “term extension,” where you can allow for an extension of the internship as long as both parties agree to it. Before deciding on the learning internship term length, it’s advisable to confer with the intern to ensure it fits with both your needs and expectations.

5. Assessment Criteria

In order to determine if all the objectives of the learning internship have been met, it’s critical to outline assessment criteria from the beginning. The success of the internship should never be subjective. Instead, it should be assessed and measured using a standardized assessment tool. This is the best way to make sure that all your interns have concrete evidence of successful completion of their internship.

Once you have made sure you’ve included all five of these elements, you’ll have a comprehensive internship learning contract that you can reuse with all future interns.

To post an internship position, sign up for an account today. Or, to learn more about creating an internship program for your company, download our free guide, “Guide to Structuring a Successful Internship Program.”

Students: How to avoid internship scams

An internship can be a great way for undergraduates or recent post graduates to learn crucial hands on experience that they will need in their future careers. However, there are people out there who take advantage of young hopefuls with internship scams. If you are in search of an internship, don’t fall prey to these devious schemes. It is imperative that you learn the red flags in an internship posting. Here are ways to avoid internship scams so that you can land the real internship that will help you reach your career goals.

Internship ScamDon’t Pay Up Front Requests

Any internship that asks you to pay money is a scam. You should never have to pay out anything to a company in order to work as an intern with the possible exception of a drug or background check. However, the initial application process should never include fees. Typically, the scheme will involve payment and then the entity will disappear for good. Never pay any fees to anyone in exchange for an internship.

Make Sure You Can Verify the Validity of the Business

Although some internship ads may seem legit, it is important to dig a little deeper before showing up for the first day (or even your interview!). Verify that the business address isn’t a residential address. You can do this by simply visiting the address physically or searching the web for satellite pictures of that address. Another way to check the status of the company is to visit the Better Business Bureau website to view the rating and view any filed complaints. Lack of search results could also signal a red flag and you may want to reconsider moving forward with the “company”.

Be Careful about Opportunities on Craigslist

When it comes to buying furniture, selling old items, or even trading, Craigslist can be a very useful tool.  However, it can (but not always) mean bad news when you are searching for jobs or internships. It can be hard to verify who actually posted the ad even if the business seems to be legit. With the abundance of opportunities available on Craigslist, it can be tempting to jump at the chance for possible success. Just remember to take extra precautions to any opportunities you find on Craigslist.

If It Seems Too Good To Be True, It Just Might Be

Typically, anything that is too good to be true is a scam. No one will give you something for nothing. If  any of the hiring process for your internship seems to move too quickly or you are hired before you even internview, this can be a red flag. Most hiring processes include the submission of an application and/or resume, an interview process, and then an offer. If you get an internship before you even meet with anyone and they are offering big bucks, beware!

Feeling a little overwhelmed?  There is no need.  Follow these simple rules and you should be able to spot a scam a mile away.  For those in the Rhode Island area, visit www.bridge.jobs for assistance in your internship search.

Employers: Creating a learning experience through internships

Internship OrientationWhen you decide to implement an internship program for your company, you are opening many doors for aspiring professionals to take advantage of a desired career path before they have significant hands on experience. Not only is an internship program beneficial to young hopefuls, but also to your company. Having an internship program can increase productivity, create a pipeline to help identify future employees who are already trained, and allows your company to give back to the community. In order for your internship program to be a success, the interns must be able to take away a valuable learning experience that will benefit them in their career. Your job is to provide the right environment for interns that will promote the learning, growth, and experience that is needed to be successful in the job field and for them to become enthusiastic ambassadors of your organization. Here are a few tips on how to outline your internship program and create a beneficial learning experience.

  • Orientation– Give your interns a warm welcome as if they are brand new employees. Educate your interns about your organization and get into details about products and services offered. Introduce them to who they will be working with and any other relevant staff. Give them a look into the work culture and daily life at the company. Some interns may be new to the working world entirely so consider breaking things down to the lowest common denominator to make things easier to understand. Once your interns feel welcomed and become more aware of what is to take place, they will be more relaxed to begin contributing to the cause. However, if you simply throw an intern into the workflow, you may be beginning a long road of counter production.
  • Provide Complimenting Tasks– Set up projects that your intern will be able to link to their academic learning. Classroom knowledge and firsthand experiences can go hand in hand to create the best learning experience for your interns. Fight the urge to send the interns out for coffee and other mundane errands. Although tasks like filing and correspondence are necessary, help to fulfill the intern’s need for knowledge with more challenging duties and limit busy work to no more than 20% of your intern’s time.
  • Supervision– Keeping your interns under supervision helps to ensure that they stay on task. It can be hard for a student with no work experience to stay on task at first so make it easier with a mentor to help keep them focused. A mentor can evaluate performance, answer questions, and provide another point of view of the career. A mentor can also become an important building block in your intern’s business network.
  • Real Life Experience– Although knowledge gained in the classroom can be essential, direct experience is the only way for an intern to properly learn the field. Rolling up their sleeves and getting deep into the real working world will provide interns with a lasting impression that can either make or break their goals for the future. Help your interns get a broad look at what it takes to make the company run through a variety of tasks and experiences. Allowing interns to see a company from every angle can help them to be better at the position in which they desire. As your intern branches out, they can make many more connections and thrive.

These tips are sure to arm you with the tools you need to make your company’s internship program a success. Looking for interns in the Rhode Island area?  Visit www.bridge.jobs to match your company with the perfect intern for free.

Students: 6 Responsibilities of Interns

An internship is a great opportunity for students or aspiring professionals to get experience in their field and often with the hope of potential employment. An internship is usually set for a fixed time with or without pay. Although the position sometimes doesn’t have many monetary benefits, the general goal of an internship is to build out-of-classroom professional experience, add new relevant competencies and transfer these to your resume. If you are looking for an internship, it’s important that you know exactly how to take advantage of the wonderful opportunity. Here are six key responsibilities of interns that can help you have a successful internship.

1. Learning

What is the key knowledge you look to gain from this internship?  You must go in knowing what is it that you want to learn and how far you want to go. When it comes to knowledge, the sky is the limit. The best way to learn what you need at an internship is to relate what you have learned in the classroom to the actual hands on work you will be doing. Apply key concepts to the work you are doing and think about how this will affect your career in the long run.

Working hard at internship

2. Be Reliable

The most important thing an intern can do is to be reliable. Although you may not be a paid employee of the company or organization you are interning for, it is critical for you to be one of the most reliable individuals present. An internship is viewed as a favorable chance for an undergraduate to get a hands on view of their desired profession that many others do not get. So be on time, alert, productive, and have a positive attitude at all times. If you are lucky, this opportunity could even lead to full-time employment.

3. Do Busy Work

As you may have heard, interns are often the people who turn into personal assistants. However, this does not have the be the case (and definitely should not be the case if you are unpaid!).  As an intern, it is a given that you will do some undesirable busy work. You have to start somewhere to get anywhere. A good rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t be spending more than twenty percent of your time at as an intern doing busy work (and this is a guideline employers should be following especially if you are unpaid or are getting academic credit for your internship).

4. Take Instructions and Notes

Be sure that you are well rested and alert at all times so that you can properly absorb all of the information that comes at you on a daily basis as an intern. Although you come into the position with no experience, you don’t have to look like it. Keep a notepad handy at all times to jot down instructions given by your superior. Although you might think you will remember, keep notes just so that you won’t have to ask again and look as though you are forgetful or inattentive.

5. Ask Questions

When you are an intern, the only dumb question is the one that was already answered.  It will be common knowledge that you are an intern and need help at first so don’t be afraid to ask questions when things aren’t clear to you. Chances are everyone will be more than happy to help.

6. Network

No amount of time is too short to set up a much needed business connection. Being around your future peers can give you a leg up to establishing a great network of business professionals. Some of these same people may be able to help you further your career goals when your internship is long over.

Looking for an internship in the Rhode Island area?  Visit www.bridge.jobs for a free tool that brings students and employers together. You never know what amazing opportunity awaits!