Sample Internship Program – 8 Elements to Incorporate into an Internship Program

Internship programs can be part of an organization’s recruitment strategy and help achieve organizational business objectives. Interns are generally looking for real life experience that will utilize their skills and offer challenging work.

Internship programs were originally designed by colleges and universities to give students real life work experience as part of their degree curriculum. Schools partnered with businesses and helped place prospective students within work environments.

Today, businesses are using internship programs to help identify talent and recruit for employment. This can be an inexpensive way to recruit employees and identify talent for succession planning.

Employers use interns to complete projects that might have otherwise been difficult to complete. The process can include testing the student’s socialization to the workplace, aptitude and skill set. It is estimated that 20-25% of newly hired employees come from internship programs.

For an internship program to be successful, it requires designated resources, a formal structure and management process for recruiting prospective interns and managing current interns.

8 Elements to Incorporate into an Internship Program:

1. Program Goals

internshipphotobykcolwell_thumbInternship programs should be part of the business strategy. There should be specific criteria and actionable goals for the program.

For example, the internship program might have a goal of recruiting at least 10 candidates for each position. This goals allows for a good selection of candidates for the position.

2. Application Process

Internship programs often have the same or similar application process as used for new employees. The organization might require interns to apply, meet internship criteria, interview and be placed appropriately. This is a critical step in assuring a good match for the internship program needs.

3. Compensation Package

Most internship programs offer paid positions. In addition to a salary, internships can offer other benefits as well. Relocation costs, housing supplement and paid holidays are a few benefits that can be included in an internship compensation package.

4. Job Description

Every intern should receive a job description outlining responsibilities and employee goals for the position. Interns should be treated like all other employees and held accountable for the job they are being brought on to do.

5. Orientation Process

Like new employees, interns should go through a formal employee orientation process. Interns need to know the same information that employees do and should be held to the same standards, policies and procedures as other workers. Putting interns through a formal orientation process helps prepare them for the culture and work environment.

6. Manager

It is important to assign a manager to the intern. Someone should be responsible to make sure the intern has the tools they need to do their job and to manage the performance of the intern. It is the manager’s responsibility to ensure that the intern understands how the organization communicates expectations, holds employees accountable and achieves business goals.

7. Performance Appraisal

Interns should go through a formal performance appraisal process. This should be done to assess the intern’s progress toward stated goals at the beginning of the internship.

8. Exit Interview

It is important to do exit interviews with interns to gain their perspective on the program. Soliciting their honest feedback can provide valuable feedback that can be incorporated into improvements to the program.

Successful internship programs can be a win-win situation for all parties. Schools are able to offer students valuable on the job experiences. Students gain valuable real life experiences and the opportunity to sell themselves as a prospective employee. Businesses are provided with great services at a cheap rate and often find a gem of an employee in the process.

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photo by:   kcolwell

Article originally posted June, 2010, updates, September, 2014.