The reason that internships are so popular right now is that they’re a win-win for employers and interns. On the intern’s side, they’re dipping their toes into professional waters and gaining networking experience that they can carry onto the shores of a new job.
For employers, internships are obviously far from a raw deal since they, in turn, receive additional help around the office and an enthusiastic supernumerary eager to carry out any assignment that crosses her path.
When everything runs smoothly, employers give interns the chance to ply their trade – if only for the summer and provisionally – and those same employers can train the next generation for success.
More often than not employers are, indeed, so impressed with the incoming crop of talent that they extend a full-time job offer once the internship concludes.
How to Improve Your Internship Programs
There are, though, cases when internships don’t go exactly as planned and that job offer isn’t immediately forthcoming. When this happens the experience is sometimes looked back upon by the student with a mixture of frustration and regret and the employer scratching her head wondering, “what went wrong?”.
Applying Structure and Learning Goals
To sidestep that whole scenario make sure that your next internship program has structure to it from start to finish. Develop a set of daily and weekly goals to carry your program though from Day 1 to completion.
And if you’ve been running internships in the past, make sure to retain more of what worked and scrap or re-calibrate the rest; if this is your first one, then keep a running tally on what’s working.
At the end of the internship interns will usually be pretty straightforward with you and say what they liked and what they may have changed.
Columbia College says that the best way to ensure objective learning goals is to follow the SMART system and develop goals that are: specific; measurable; attainable; results-focused; and, time-focused. When learning goals are specific that means that they have a solid operational definition and can also be measured.
Learning goals throughout the internship should obviously also be attainable and down-to-earth so that interns can actually reach them and expand on their classroom learning. And making sure that learning goals are results- and time-focused is also an asset to your business since you always want to get the most value from your “employees” and time is money, right?
Include More Supervision and Mentorship
Supervising the successful completion of learning goals and mentoring interns are two interconnected means of immediately streamlining your internship program. Responsive supervision that’s attentive and compassionate without being over-bearing is what you’re after here.
Without supervision, wouldn’t it be hard to tell whether interns were staying on track and meeting their (and your) expectations? And if interns are missing the mark, shouldn’t someone come in and establish a fresh set of learning goals and reshuffle the deck? You bet they should, and that’s where an experienced supervisor comes in.
Especially when you’re dealing with a mentor, try to match the intern’s and mentor’s backgrounds up so that you can strike just the right balance between personalities and minimize any resistance.
Intern’s Learning Goals and Your Needs
Remember when we were talking about learning goals being results-focused? Well, why not make those results congruent with your organization’s core needs so that you, at once, provide the intern with new experiences and allow your business to flourish?
When done right, internship programs allow your business to grow by freeing up your staff’s creative energies and infusing the workplace with even more enthusiasm.