Revolutionize Your Internship Program With These Easy-peasy Tips

From a student’s perspective, internships are a amazing way of building an impressive resume, earning course credit and gleaning work experience that can translate into a solid foundation for a full-time career.

On the other hand, internships are also a huge boon for employers since they provide businesses with up-and-coming professionals who have been vetted, mentored and educated.

There’s simply no better way to get what you’re looking for in a new employee than doing most of the training yourself through an internship. What about when you want supercharged results, though? How can you efficiently revolutionize your internship program to eventually develop superstar full-time employees?

Revolutionizing Your Internship Program

Young businessman acting like a super hero and tearing his shirt

 

Getting up close and personal with interns tells you a lot about what skills they’re bringing to the table, and it also clues you into their ability to handle stress, work together on teams and maintain great time management throughout.

Really Test Your Interns

You ultimately want indications that interns are up to snuff and can make tangible contributions to your organization. The best way to do that is to give interns real tasks that put their capabilities, experiences and classroom knowledge to the test in a way that actually helps your company.

Your internship program should still have structure and adequate supervision, but try giving interns a little more rope by allowing them to develop some of their own projects.

In the workplace, your employees are often walking a tightrope between carrying out assigned tasks and autonomously pursuing their own projects. Extend that same freedom – with limits – to your interns by allowing them the opportunity to carry out projects that you would assign actual employees, on the one hand, and also allowing interns the space to carry out their own projects that still support your company.

Take some cues from Google who gives its employees “20% free time” to pursue their own projects.

Listen to Interns at Every Step

Google allows its employees to more autonomously develop their own projects in order to infuse a new perspective into the organization. Some people call this bringing a change culture to a company.

By whichever name, adding a new perspective to your company is rarely a bad thing, and a lot of times it can be just the shot in the arm that businesses looking for more innovation desperately need to move forward.

So, while you’re giving your own feedback to interns and steering them in the direction that you feel will provide the most value to your company, take the time to listen to interns. Why should you do this?

Because interns often have an entirely new way of looking at an old problem. It was actually Einstein who said that you shouldn’t keep always applying the same solutions to problems and expect a revolutionary outcome: You need a paradigm shift to realize a truly revolutionary answer.

Interns can often provide that. Ask interns what they feel they’re bringing to your business during the initial interview, then during the exit interview ask interns what ideas they have for improving your business. The answers to these questions can often be illuminating.

Birds of a Feather Flourish Together

We often perform our best when paired with someone with a similar background, interests and educational concentrations.

The same goes for your interns: from Day 1 pair each intern, where possible, with a mentor who understands where they’re coming from and can offer timely guidance and insider tips for that intern to really soar at your company. An easy-peasy step to take towards excellence!

If You Don’t Intern Now, You’ll Hate Yourself Later

In mounting acknowledgment of the importance that an internship can have in a college student’s life – and we’re talking decades down the line – thousands of colleges and universities around the country are actually starting to require at least one internship prior to graduation.

We can already hear a few moans and groans, but the fact that internships are gradually being woven into the fabric of the college experience is definitely no reason to despair.

Unlike some dubious reflection papers that you’ve penned throughout your dorm-room days at the university, internships actually pay off in a tangible way in the real world – and often literally pay off as in paychecks with a few more zeros at the end. If you don’t get one now, you’ll regret it.

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Taking the Plunge: Reaping the Benefits

You may have heard the tale of woe being spun by some of your friends who are still out job hunting even though they have their diploma in their back pocket. That can happen. But there’s a way to significantly aid the job search. Can you guess what it is?

You probably see where we’re heading with this one: An internship can significantly increase your chances of landing a job right out of college and, in fact, internships have been shown statistically to do just that.

It’s Who You Know

While things like GPA were a poor predictor of early job prospects out of college, the number of internships that you take on while in college shows a significant (statisticians’s word for “pay attention”) correlation with your later job prospects.

And the more internships that you take on, the better your job prospects.

Since internships actually show a tighter correlation to your chances of landing a job than GPA per se, this whole thing actually lends some credence to that saying, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

Getting in touch with the right people through your internship can absolutely lead to a lucrative job offer in the near future.

Internships and Long-term Fulfillment

To sweeten the deal even further, research on internships, job prospects and student happiness also shows that employment right out of college contributed significantly to erstwhile students feeling sunnier and more fulfilled.

And since internships are connected with later job prospects, you could forecast – through a little syllogistic magic: sorry to remind you of Philosophy 101 – that since internships increase your chances of getting a job, and since getting a job is correlated with happiness, internships might actually make you happier long term.

Internships and Finding Your Passion

Maybe these graduating (and graduated) students actually find happiness through the internship since they’re getting exposed to the day-to-day practice of the passions that impel them out of bed in the morning.

An internship offers you the chance to put yourself in the shoes of someone who’s completely enmeshed with their joie de vivre – and makes money doing it!

Job Offer, Anyone?

We’re not necessarily saying that taking an internship will suddenly turn you into a cigar-chomping Gordon Gecko character straight off the screen of Wall Street – unless that’s something you’re looking for… – but we are saying that internships offer you a shot at finding what makes life a little richer for you personally.

Internships allow you to field test what you do, and maybe don’t, like and determine whether your passion is something that you might want to turn into a career.

Since internships also naturally allow for networking, exposure to insider information and a possible full-time job offer, you’ll build up confidence while you network and rub elbows with the very people that you’ll potentially one day be working alongside.

Get Better Internship Results By Following 3 Simple Steps

Internships are a funny thing. For students just entering college, the core priorities are getting into their dream school, getting into the right classes, picking the right major and making the grades to materialize their future careers.

Employers see things a little bit differently in that, when asked what they deem most important in recent graduates, they tend to downplay the factors we just mentioned.

Internships: What Really Matters

Although seventy percent of employers are actually saying that colleges do a good to excellent job of creating the next generation of executives and tomorrow’s movers and shakers – according to a Chronicle study on employer perceptions of higher education – the majority of employers homed in on things other than GPA.

Employers like seeing recent post-graduates who’ve taken the initiative and gone after internships, research and volunteer positions with a passion.

When polled, employers say that these things plus jobs and extra-curriculars taken on during college are the most important factors when sizing up new hires.

What happens, though, from an employer’s perspective when interns appear to have all of these things but their performance falls a bit short of expectations?

Achieving Better Internship Results

Even after the vetting processes of taking a look at an intern’s GPA, major, volunteer experience and previous internships, the reality of some interns clearly falls short of the billing.

While assigning blame might not necessarily be the most productive use of your time, there are a few steps you can take to right the ship back on course.

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Sit Down and Establish Goals

When you’re intern is proving to be more of a dud than a stud, sitting down for a one-on-one chat and clarifying weekly goals for the remainder of the internship can be an internship’s saving grace.

Make your goals measurable yet doable for an intern who’s struggling and, if it still isn’t working out, then schedule a second talk in lieu of or before meeting with the intern’s college career office.

Sitting down after the internship period’s completed and tabulating a kind of “post-mortem” of what went wrong can have everyone moving in a healthier direction for Round 2.

Consider Hosting New-hire Panels

Working a new-hire panel session into your internship program’s orientation is a great way to welcome interns and put their doubts at ease.

It basically works like this – you take three to five people who you’ve hired in the last, say, three years (“new hires”) and you sit them down in front of interns to chat about their experiences and answer questions about the work environment and what they can expect – an impromptu FAQ, if you will.

New-hire panels are great for a number of reasons. First, since your new hires are may be in a similar age range to soon-to-be or recently graduated interns, interns can immediately see a career for themselves with your company.

At the same time they can see firsthand they – as they’re not that different from your new hires – might be able to hack it as well. Interns can let their hair down, so to speak, and ask the kind of insider questions they otherwise might be too timid to inquire about.

Offer Supplemental Intern Training

After orientation and panel sessions, some interns are still struggling. In-house or extramural training sessions aimed at rounding out interns’ specific, work-related skill set or overhauling their time management skills can really pay dividends for employers who feel like these interns aren’t cutting it.

Have You Heard? Internships are Your Best Bet To Grow

Internships are becoming more prized in the workplace with every year that passes. Well over half of BA holders (65%) have been on one or more internship and used that internship experience to pick up real-world skills that they can put towards building their resumes and networking.

While the amount of college students doing internships has hit an all-time high, internships have also increasingly become more relevant in the post-graduation job safari.

Fortunately, the goals of interns and the needs of employers happen to align here in that, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers are looking for more than talent.

Student to Intern to Leader

learn and lead

Employers are getting the word out that they need interns who they can see as full-time employees ready to make a contribution right out of the gate.

Another thing that employers want to see is potential leadership in their interns – you may be much more likely to get hired if the employer perceives you as a future leader in your field.

In other words, more and more employers are viewing internships as feeder programs into leadership and development tracks for their organizations rather than treating you like a glorified Starbucks employee or human photocopier.

The Perks of Staying Connected

Another big plus from an employer’s perspective is an intern who can quickly forge deep connections within the company in particular and the field in general.

Even if networking is a relatively minor note in the internship that you’re on – because you’re in a more insular or less traditionally competitive field, for instance – networking allows you a gateway into other skills that can help you build your professional portfolio.

Effective networking clues you in to the prime movers and shakers in the field and steers you in the direction of the latest meetings and corporate events.

By getting this insider’s view into the industry you can save yourself a ton of time and meet the people who really matter in your field. Networking and being exposed to fresh faces and new opportunities also gives you the chance to put theory to practice and speak the lingua franca of professionals plying the trade.

Positioned for Success

Making the rounds at these events will give you much better footing when it comes to industry connections and letters of recommendation later as well.

Just like you probably needed a few prerequisite courses or training to land the internship in the first place, more solid references and practicum experience is only going to make you stand out from the pack and further enhance your future employability.

Put yourself in the shoes of an employer for a moment: You’re staring down two different curriculum vitaes. Identical GPAs – for the sake of argument – and generally pretty similar backgrounds. The only difference is that one candidate has niche experience in the industry and the other has just taken a course or two and crafted a nice essay.

Obviously, the former candidate is going to get the leg up in most instances because of that added real-world experience.

Improved Time Management Skills

On top of that, post-grads with an internship under their belt will likely have better time management skills, which is something that employers really emphasize when looking for standouts.

It’s likely a chicken or the egg scenario in that your time management probably landed you the internship in the first place, and your punctuality and attention to detail while on internship helped refine those skills. Either way, it made you a far more competitive candidate and helped seal the deal!