3 Easy Ways to Improve Your Internship Program Today

While internships are indeed a pipeline for fresh talent and new faces around the office, internship programs (like interns) often need a push to get going. Once that push has been given, it can turn your internship program from competent to great and from an opportunity into a process that delivers consistent results.

To be most effective, the nurturing process should start before the internship itself begins. Getting your interns up to speed on your organization, and conducting a thorough vetting process will set appropriate expectations and prepare them well to start off on the right foot. So, how do you do this exactly?

Hand pointing to Internship concept

Tip #1: Prepare Interns for Success

What are the chief things that employers should be screening for when it comes to finding those interns that are a cut above the competition? In addition to seeking candidates that study a relevant field, have job-related skills, or even have previous experience to bring to the table, you’ll also want to look for interns that have certain soft skills and personal traits that make them easy to train and pleasant to work with like determination, good problem solving skills, and open-mindedness.

Explain what a typical day might look like for your internship candidates. Does your interviewee have a lot of questions along the way? That may show your potential intern is inquisitive and ready to learn. Ask your candidates about their goals after graduation. Have them tell you about classroom experience that would help them do the job. Find out why they want the internship. Are they eager to learn or are they just checking a box for their resume?

Preparing your interns for success starts by choosing the right interns for the job. If you need good communication skills, make sure your interviewee speaks well, explains herself clearly, and brings a writing sample or two. If you need someone more analytical, give them a problem to solve. Leave the room for 10 minutes while she comes up with a solution and then discuss. Find out her thought process. Are her critical thinking skills in line with what you are seeking?

All of the questions you ask in your internship interview should be designed to efficiently locate the interns that are really passionate about the field and have the necessary skills, traits, experience and open-mindedness to be a good fit.

Tip #2: Run an Intern Orientation

Having an orientation for new interns is the best way to establish clear expectations early on let interns know what’s expected of them if they’re to succeed in their new role.

Interns should know from the outset the short- and long-term goals of the internship and how this internship fits in with the company.

Orientations should make the company ethos clear, if it isn’t already, and clue interns in on what they need to do to meet future performance evaluations, daily responsibilities required to successfully carry out the internship, and important company policies to always bear in mind when speaking with superiors and employees as well as present and future clients.

In the orientation you also want to outline a blueprint for how intern supervisors can facilitate the internship experience in a way that enlarges, rather than detracts, from your business resources.

Even if you are a small organization, orientation is a must. Orientation can be a big group session or a simple conversation between intern and supervisor, but it shouldn’t be swept aside just because you only have a few employees.

Tip #3: Set Up a Mentor Program

A mentor program is essential for getting (and keeping) everything off on the right foot.

When mentors first meet with their interns, they should be supportive yet set up clear and practical expectations that both nurture an intern’s development and abet contributions to your overarching organization.

One of the things that mentors don’t often think about – but actually play a huge role in the success of internships – is making sure that the mentor’s schedule is aligned with the interns.

If there are days when mentors or interns are underused or super busy, then your schedules need to align accordingly to make up the difference and synergistically reap more from the mentor-intern relationship.

Want more help on improving your internship program. Download our free Employer Guide that can teach you tips on writing more interesting internship descriptions, show you how to set up a learning contract, discuss legal considerations for bringing on internships and more.

Download the Employer Guide to Creating a Meaningful Learning Experience for Students

Want A Thriving Business? Focus On Internships!

When you visualize the perfect new hire, a few character traits and professional aspirations probably come to mind.

You want someone who’s dedicated to quality and does more than follow directions: Many businesses are actually looking to hire young professionals with an open-mind for fresh approaches yet still receptive to industry best practices.

Business intern

In short, you’re looking for job candidates who show creativity and a knack for independent learning yet still have a grounding in the fundamentals of the profession…with all of the pre-requisites and practicum experience that entails.

Internships for Business Growth

Just surveying the business landscape today you can see that internships are having a positive impact on growth all around the nation: the majority of interns eventually becoming full-time hires.

On average, approximately two-thirds of one-time interns receive job offers from businesses.

That number alone tells you that businesses are impressed with what they’re seeing from interns; so much so that they want that intern to become a full-fledged member of the organization and make independent contributions of their own in the field.

Picking the Cream of the Crop

Internships, in a lot of ways, are boot camps that separate the wheat from the chaff. There’s a vetting process right from the get-go when you interview the top candidates for the job, and that’s followed by another narrowing of the field when it comes to which of those interns who passed the interview process can make it through the internship.

Ranking concept

From there, you have the latitude of picking the best of the best among your interns in that you get to pick among all of the elite interns that made it through. You choose which of these interns get offered a full-time position with the company based on factors like:

  • Likelihood of making a substantive future contribution
  • Ability to network and mesh with industry professionals
  • Time management and organizational skills
  • Receptivity to advice, counsel and industry best practice

Internships are effectively a non-stop recruiting tool for your business since by hosting summer, fall and quarterly internships you put yourself in closer proximity to budding talent in your industry.

Your Pipeline to Tomorrow’s Talent

In effect, internships are a pipeline to tomorrow’s highest talent and a means of ensuring that your business can make up for any employee turnover or retirements.

You obviously need more fresh faces coming into the industry as other professionals transition into their golden years and decide on retirement.

Internships are really the closest things that business owners have to a fountain of youth as they enable individual businesses to oversee a fresh stable of talent ready to make an impact in the day-to-day operations of your business.

Gain a Fresh Perspective

It’s also often the case with interns and first-time professionals that they’re completely open to new technologies and novel approaches. Simply put, interns can infuse your internal business culture with a new perspective and a sense of spontaneity and enthusiasm that may have been lacking before those same interns arrived on the scene.

Interns are usually the most interested in their field of study during college and ready to test their mettle by gaining real-world experience and fleshing out their learning in the classroom. When you really think about it, isn’t that the ideal job candidate? Someone who’s done their homework and wants to start making a contribution?

Millions of businesses obviously think so since internships segueing to full-time hires offer more support, increased productivity and bolstered employee retention as interns consistently show higher five-year retention rates. This all goes to show that interns are driven, committed and passionate!

3 Places to Find Interns in RI

Are you looking to give internship opportunities in your organization to young hopefuls, but simply don’t know where to begin the search?  You don’t want to grab the first applicant that comes knocking on your door. You need to find someone who will be a customized fit for your organization to ensure that the internship will be a success. Although there are many websites that make claims to find interns in your area, the information on each applicant may be vague or misguiding. You shouldn’t have to settle when it comes to finding the best interns for what you are offering. When you know where to look, your chances of landing the best interns are increased dramatically. Here are some of the best places to find interns in Rhode Island.

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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.”