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.
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.”