Creating Your Corporate 2012 Fall Internship Program
Controversy surrounding the ethical standards of internships and their legality is extremely prevalent. An unethical internship program holds severe consequences for both the individuals taking part in the program and the reputation of your organization as a whole. However, the benefits of having a proper internship program in place at your company extend far beyond the clear advantages to you, as you also provide students and recent graduates with an invaluable experience to carry with them throughout the rest of their careers.
For that reason, I have spent much time differentiating between a “good” internship and a “bad” internship. Consider the following seven steps to create a rewarding internship program that you and your interns can thrive off of:
1. Things to Consider
If you have thought about bringing on interns to enhance your organization but have yet to take any action, there are some prerequisites to consider before taking on this new initiative. Consider the following questions to aid in setting a foundation for your internship program:
- What are the benefits for you?
- What are the benefits for the young professionals participating in your program?
- Are you familiar with the unpaid internship laws?
- Who will mentor and supervise the program?
2. Setting Goals
Once you and your team have begun to lay a foundation for your program, it is important to begin determining the goals of the experience. Ask yourself some of the following questions as to why you are creating the program:
- What do you hope to get out of the program?
- Is your company hoping to transition talented interns to entry-level employees?
- What will the intern learn during their experience?
- How many hours do you expect the interns to work each week? What is the duration of the internship?
- How will you communicate with the intern on a daily basis?
- Will the intern receive any type of training once hired?
3. Writing a Plan and Program Design
A clear plan and a structured design prior to taking on interns is one of the most important aspects of creating an internship program. Consider the following:
- Expected tasks/projects
- Amount of time expected from intern
- Compensation/benefits for the intern
An internship program isn’t all that enticing unless you are sure you will be recruiting top talent. Here are a few ways to find quality intern candidates this 2012 fall internship season:
- It’s all in the job description. A quality job description attracts quality candidates. Spend time perfecting the description making sure that it encompasses all of the responsibilities of the candidate as well as the company’s overall mission and goals.
- Interact with campus career centers. College career centers can help you to disperse your internship opportunity to students in specific majors pertaining to the position. What better way to reach out to college students seeking experience than their hub for career opportunities?
- Use current interns to help recruit their talented friends. Referrals are still the most common way to land a new job. Once your internship program is up and running, you have trust in your current interns to recommend their friends and colleagues.
Now it is time to build a supportive management team to oversee the program and young professionals. The supervisor should be just as carefully chosen as the new intern selected. A supervisor committed and capable of developing people would be a great individual for the role.
6. Providing Feedback and Evaluating Your Intern
For some interns, this may be their first work experience outside of the classroom. Constructive feedback is priceless in helping them grow. Feedback should be provided as tasks are completed as well as a comprehensive evaluation at the end of the internship. Be positive and encourage two-way communication throughout the duration of the program.
7. Evaluate Your Program and Make Necessary Changes
It is never too late to make changes or improve your internship program. Determine if you are working towards or away from the goals you outlined in your plan. Furthermore, the evaluation feedback from your interns will provide you with great insight as to whether or not you are meeting the needs of your interns.
The opportunity of your very own internship program should ignite excitement, not worry or fear. If you take the time to develop a program with reputable goals for both you and the interns, a mutually beneficial relationship is sure to transpire.
Does your company provide a mutually beneficial internship program? What do you think makes a corporate internship program successful in 2012 and beyond?
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for organizations with products that target job seekers and/or employers. She is also the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011), #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.