Sample Internship Program

by Patricia Lotich on June 23, 2010

Internship programs can be part of an organization’s recruitment strategy to help achieve organizational business objectives.

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.

internship photo by kcolwell
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 can use temporary interns to complete projects that are difficult to complete with lacking resources. 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.

Interns are generally looking for real life experience that will utilize their skills and offer challenging work.

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.

Things to incorporate into an internship program:


Internship programs should have a vision and be part of the business strategy as identified in a strategic plan. There should be specific criteria for the program and actionable goals for the program.

Application Process

Internship programs should have the same or similar process used for new employees. The organization should 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.

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 offered as part of an internship compensation package.

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 their job.

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.


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 oversee the performance management of the intern. Interns benefit from understanding how organizations hold employees accountable and achieve business goals.

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.

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 improvement plans for the program.

Successful internship programs can be a win-win situation for schools, students and businesses. A small amount of planning can net a great gain in resources for organizations.

photo by:   kcolwell

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