An internship program can be extremely beneficial to your business, while also providing valuable experience to young people in your community. However, managing interns requires some thought and planning. If you’re looking to establish an internship program that will actually benefit those who are enrolled, here’s what you need to know:
Think about what your interns want
In order to ensure that an internship program has longevity, focus on building the program so that it appeals to the people who participate in it. Yes, it’s convenient to send your interns on regular coffee runs to make your life easier, but having them do only tedious tasks will create a program that earns a reputation for being boring or unfulfilling. Instead, focus on building a program that actually benefits the interns. Let them get a taste of various aspects of your field, and make sure that there are hands-on components to the program. Think about the internship experience from the eyes of a high school or college student. What would they want to learn? What would they find interesting?
Give it some structure
Internship programs typically do best when there’s some structure. For instance, for three weeks the interns work in this department, and then they rotate through to another department. Or perhaps the interns spend the summer working to complete a project, which they present at the end.
Make sure you actually have enough to do to keep them busy
Many well-meaning business owners start internship programs, and then quickly find that they’ve got a group of bored college students on their hands that are just waiting for the summer to be over. Before you take on interns, make sure that you’ve got enough work available to occupy their time in a meaningful way. No one wants to sign up for an internship only to spend the entire day making copies and fetching coffee. There should be something worthwhile to do or learn in order to make the internship experience unique.
Look into the legality of interns
Many colleges require interns to work for college credit, so take some time to understand the logistics of setting an internship program up so you ensure that the students you bring on board are fulfilling all necessary requirements. Also investigate workers’ compensation issues, harassment policies, and other legal matters. Though it may seem like these won’t be applicable for interns, it’s important to understand how they could potentially come into play before you begin any type of internship program.
Internship programs can benefit both the business and the college student, however careful consideration is required in order to ensure that the program is successful and beneficial for everyone involved.