You can offer your interns a rewarding experience when you design an internship program that is tailored to the needs and the interests of your company.
An internship with your company gives interns a chance to gain practical experience in the field, learn about your organization and its culture, and gain insight into where they want to go with their careers.
Business owners can utilize an intern program to prescreen candidates for potential future full-time positions and to train and develop their own in-house talent. Should you decide to hire an intern full-time after graduation, then you can save money on recruiting and onboarding.
Starting out as an intern is less time consuming than becoming a regular employee, and interns are faster at integrating into an organization’s culture. Interns are a great addition to the team at a company and can help free up some of your best workers to harder tasks.
They will be eager to learn and will be willing to help in any way that they can. The purpose of this guide is to help you set up a successful internship program and show you what you need to know before you post it online.
Table of Contents
- What Is An Internship Program?
- Internships And Their Characteristics
- Structure Your Internship Program
- Conduct A Legal Assessment
- Create An Intern Job Description
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Is An Internship Program?
Maybe establishing what an internship program is by first exploring what it is not would be useful. An internship program is not a strategy for getting free or extremely cheap labor.
In addition, internships are not part-time jobs where the intern must perform tasks unrelated to their careers, such as routine office duties.
Planning and thought go into creating an internship program that is successful. A mentor is someone who offers professional training and development that will enhance the academic studies of an intern.
Because of this, they are better suited to become entry-level employees at your company or a similar one.
Internships And Their Characteristics
The great thing about internships is that they can last as long as you want. As a result, the period can be as short as a week or as long as a year. They are there to enhance the interns skills but also help your company grow.
It is your role as the employer to mentor them and guide them on their way around their workplace. You can offer paid or unpaid internships, but the candidate that applies will know that already in the information, so they will most likely want academic credit.
Structure Your Internship Program
There are a number of factors that contribute to the success of an internship program for college students and others. Identifying and addressing each of these factors will help you make an internship more successful.
- Don’t assume that your intern will automatically know what proper office protocol is regarding attendance, dress code, and demeanor. Set them up for success by explaining the rules up front. This could be their first job in the “real world.” You want to give them the idea of what it is like to be dressed as a work colleague.
- Assigning daily responsibilities to your intern will make them feel like they are part of your team and settle into the rhythm of your organization quickly. You can have them do simple tasks such as checking voicemails from the evening before, reviewing the online news for relevant articles about your business, or even making coffee for the team. Just make sure to give them a wide range of tasks that keep them involved in the company and not just basic ones throughout. To make sure they are helpful right from the start, we want to give them a way to do so.
- Prepare as many work assignments and deliverables as possible before your intern starts. While it takes some planning and thought on your part, it will make your internship more fulfilling. It’s crucial not to be forced to scrounge around for tasks an intern can perform. This will leave them in a position where they feel unwanted and waste their own time just to make coffee. Successful internship programs take internship opportunities seriously.
- Create a supervisory system in advance and make sure workers supervising interns are aware of when to offer hands-on assistance. Make sure your organization appoints an internship coordinator to facilitate communication between supervisors and interns. Building a positive relationship with your intern is a great way to make them feel welcome and part of your team.
- Schedule regular meetings for the supervisor to discuss performance, provide feedback, and let the intern ask questions and seek assistance. Once the internship is over, provide a formal evaluation. Intern evaluations and meetings serve as a way of understanding how the intern felt throughout the program and where the company may need to improve. There is also the possibility that interns will be hired as employees instead of interns.
Conduct A Legal Assessment
Hiring interns may pose legal problems. Therefore, it is important to familiarize yourself with potential legal issues, such as age requirements for employees, compensation issues, workplace behavior policy concerns, and immigration issues.
Putting in place appropriate policies and procedures to protect the company and your interns requires interaction with your human resources professionals and legal counsel.
As In the case of child labor, you should be familiar with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and your state’s laws. As soon as someone reaches the age of 18, the FLSA will no longer apply to them.
The majority of internship programs, however, are available to high school students and first-year college students who might be subject to these underage labor laws.
In addition, you should ensure that older intern applicants are not discriminated against. An increasing number of older workers are pursuing advanced degrees and changing careers.
You may be in trouble for age discrimination, but you may also miss out on an extremely qualified candidate because they are older than the average intern.
In the private sector, for-profit employers should consider paying their interns the minimum wage in their state or an amount corresponding to the value of the assistance they will be provided with during the internship.
You are responsible for proving that your internship satisfies one or more of the exceptions to FLSA wage requirements. This is including whether it provides academic credit or significant educational benefits, as well as whether it does not displace paid employees.
Workplace Policies Concerning Interns
Just like every other employee, interns are subject to workplace rules and policies. Leaving HR policies unenforced can result in legal liability for your company’s supervisors, interns, and other employees.
Maintaining regular contact with your interns is the best way to ensure everyone is treated equally and held to the same standards of workplace behavior. Without regular contact, there will be consequences.
Immigration Law Exposure
It is your responsibility to comply with all laws regarding immigration, whether you are paying the student or not.
If a foreign national interns with your company on a student visa, you do not want to end up in a situation where they are violating the terms of their visa. Create policies and procedures to ensure compliance with immigration laws for private sector internships.
Create An Intern Job Description
The last step to creating an internship program is your job description and post.
In addition to attracting the best candidates, a well-written internship job description also will help you promote your company’s reputation. Describe your company’s mission, values, and culture and why it is a great place to work.
You should describe the skills and qualifications that the internship requires in detail. What qualities you are looking for in an intern, for example the major or area of study you wish to pursue, and any technical skills or abilities you possess.
Tell them the essential skills you expect an intern to have, such as managing time and communication skills, which are essential in nearly any workplace. Include a section outlining the skills and experience the intern will gain during their internship.
An internship should offer professional development and enhance a candidate’s career prospects. The best candidates will seek an internship that offers valuable learning experiences that can’t be gained in the classroom.
Lastly, tell the intern how much time they will have to work, when they should start, and how they will be compensated, either in terms of monetary compensation, or college credit.
You will attract more qualified candidates if you show flexibility in these areas, as interns often need to balance work and academic schedules.
If you have successfully met all of the requirements then you will undoubtedly have yourself set up with an awesome internship that will be ready for many candidates to apply for.
To run a successful internship program, you must take your time and don’t rush any of these steps.
In addition to making sure you are compliant with all the legal requirements, ensure that you have the necessary structures in place to welcome your new intern to the company and guide him or her.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Makes A Great Internship Program?
Internship programs that are of the highest quality aim to provide the intern with a variety of new skills in their field of study.
While also ensuring that they gain the most experience possible while working for the organization.
Because interns want to feel heard and welcome, and not like they are on the outside looking in, internship programs that offer support and rewards tend to perform better than those that don’t.
How Do You Measure The Success Of An Internship?
It is vital to measure an internship’s success because you want to know how the intern feels during their placement at the company. It is also important to know what you did well and where you could have improved.
Ideally, you should meet with the intern at the end to discuss all of these things, and you can either hire the intern or just learn from their experience.