Building a Thriving Internship Program

June 9th, 2015 by Rocket IT

With summer interns rolling into offices, setting them up for success is top of mind. No one wants to be known as the office that hires interns to go on coffee runs and pick up dry cleaning. We want our interns to go away with something more than a mark on their resume and ridiculously specific directions on how to make coffee. We want them to feel like they’ve truly gained something from working with us. To truly create a great internship program, it’s important to create an experience valuable to both your interns and your company.

How do you do this?

  1. We do this by giving our interns a project that is both educational and validating as we plan to implement the results. Whatever project you give them, make sure it actually adds value to your company and isn’t just busy work. Giving them something you won’t actually use is a waste of their time and yours. By giving them busy work, they have no real motivation to do it, much less do it well, and you lose out on a great opportunity to take advantage of their fresh perspectives.
  2. Give your interns the proper support. Interns are usually students or entry-level professionals and don’t have the experience your typical full-time employee has. They’re also there to learn, and need some help doing it. One of our full-time support technicians serves as a mentor for our interns. When they aren’t working on their internship project, they’re usually shadowing their mentor and learning from him.
  3. Connect with the local universities and colleges. Getting in touch with deans and internship program directors helps create an intern candidate pipeline for you, and it helps those interns get class credit for the internship (which is just another benefit of working with you). Academic administrators are always on the lookout for companies who want to work with their students and provide a mutually advantageous experience for them. If you’re looking for any schools in Gwinnett County, we’d love to help connect you. We’ve had great experiences working with several local schools in Gwinnett.

So why should you do all of this for an internship program? As a colleague of mine jokingly pointed out, some people might look forward to having the traditional intern experience…  Working for little to no pay for someone who tells you that your coffee is terrible!

Well, one reason is that you’re making an investment by creating this internship program. You’re investing your time, money, and other resources into these young professionals. Not taking advantage of the time they spend with you is a waste of that investment.

Why invest so much into people who will only be with you for a brief period of time? Think of your internship period as more of a trial period. You are taking these students under your wing and training them because you might someday want to hire them full-time. If you don’t believe you want to hire someone full-time once they have the appropriate experience, then you shouldn’t hire them on as an intern at all. That’s a waste of your time and theirs. You’d be spoiling a great opportunity to mold young professionals into the candidates you’re already looking for.

When creating an internship program that sets your interns up for success, you’re creating a program that sets you and your company up for success as well. Nothing helps you grow more than helping others thrive.

 


 

Jacquelyn McFaddenAbout the Author- 

Jacque McFadden collects salt and pepper shakers and four-leaf clovers. She currently lives in Gwinnett and volunteers with the Gwinnett Relay for Life Leadership Team. Jacque is the Marketing Specialist at Rocket IT.