How to Create Internship Programs That WorkAs organizations grow and new generations of workers enter the business world, there is once again attention on internship programs – programs that provide value for both the intern and the businesses that welcome them in.

In this article for Entrepreneur, Nina Zipkin outlines three strategies (with input from key business leaders) for building successful internship programs that interns, first-time employees, and business owners will find beneficial.


Three Strategies to Create Internship Programs That Work

State Your Expectations Up Front

It’s important that supervisors and interns communicate from the very beginning about what they both hope to gain from the experience. Define appropriate tasks an intern can realistically accomplish during the time they are with you, and have ongoing projects slated as specific assignments are complete.

“Write out procedures for the little things you take for granted, such as using your phone system,” says Intern Profits cofounder Dreama Lee.

Make information about internal processes and technology easily available. Zipkin recommends a Wiki-style training guide interns can reference when questions arise.

Establish an Open-Door Policy

Remember, interns are there to learn, so make time to check in periodically, field questions, and be available to share counsel and hear out concerns.

“Providing anything less than the best educational experience for your interns doesn’t just damage your future hiring potential, but also that of other companies within your industry,” says Nathan Parcells, CMO of InternMatch.

Companies that take advantage of their interns, either by not providing a valuable learning experience or only using them for odd jobs around the office, risk putting their own reputations on the line.

Help Them Help You

“Internships are not just a way of attracting full-time candidates; they’re a way of finding and hiring new full-time employees who are very familiar with your corporate culture,” says Sageworks chairman and co-founder Brian Hamilton.

When welcoming interns into your organization, take the time to introduce them to established employees and newer hires as often as you can, and listen to what they have to say. As newcomers, they’ll become keenly aware of how the company works, and can offer a fresh, new perspective.

You’ll gain valuable insights into how your organization is perceived from the outside and how to change things for increased efficiency and productivity.

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