If you were to google the words “internship program” you would find a lot of articles and opinions out there. You would also find stories of negative experiences where people were only asked to perform the work other people didn’t want to or avoided. You would also read comments on how they did not learn from the experience, and overall, it was a waste of their time. This is not how an internship program should be run.
The primary goal of an internship is to create a learning opportunity for entry level candidates, with the view to retain them in the long-term. If the internship is beneficial and interns feel as though they are valued and their development is a true priority, they will want to stay with the business if continuity is an option. Having this primary goal at the heart of an internship program will dictate how the program is structured. Internships really should be a two-way street; interns gain experience and in a launchpad for their career, and employers have the opportunity to support the community.
So what does an actual internship program look like? Well, it needs mirror a proper position within your business. The internship needs to provide the same level of exposure a normal hire would provide. This means giving an intern guidance, mentorship and direction on tasks, projects and having weekly check-ins. Companies should also set reasonable stretch targets so interns have goals to strive for and are able to measure their own success throughout the program. When they are treated just like anyone else within a team, they will gain a higher level of satisfaction.
From my experience working with and mentoring interns, they are hungry to learn. That fire and energy can be funnelled into a key project. In a lot of cases, interns will surprise you with fresh ideas, creativity and a youthful perspective. That is a huge benefit to businesses which take on interns! You’re bringing in younger generations which think and act a different way to management, and more seasoned employees. And that is just one benefit which comes to mind!