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Internship Programs: Things to Consider

27 Aug 2014

There are many benefits to having an Internship Program at your company. Interns can be helpful in ways of productivity and efficiency, as well as creating a more dynamic and creative work environment. However, there are important considerations to keep in mind to prevent an adverse internship experience.

Some benefits of interns include: attracting lower-cost labor, “testing out” new talent before you offer them a permanent position, saving money on the recruitment process, giving back to the local community, and building relationships with colleges and universities. Interns also help to: bring fresh ideas to the workplace, provide management and oversight opportunities to other staff, and assist in getting more work done in less time. As prospective new employees still in “learning mode,” interns are able to quickly grasp knowledge and skills necessary for the job, and may also provide the employer with an ability to better compete with larger companies when it comes to recruiting the top talent. Research has shown that there are higher retention rates of employees who were previously involved in their company’s internship program. Employers also have the ability to “mold” the intern so that when they graduate, they already have many of the skillsets that are important to your company. Hiring interns also helps to meet seasonal staffing needs without the long-term commitment typical of regular employment. Happy interns will also be likely to share their positive experiences at your company with their peers and professors, giving your company, in a sense, “free” advertising.

Despite these benefits, it is important to be aware of some potential downfalls of internship programs as well. Below are some useful tips to ensure a successful internship program which benefits both the intern and your company:

To prevent disgruntled interns, be sure not to “abuse” them by over-working them or paying too little for the amount of work they do. Avoid giving them tedious, meaningless work day after day. Unhappy interns may lower productivity and provide negative sentiment about your company to others.

Before taking on interns, ensure that you have the time and resources necessary to appropriately train them and monitor their work. Have clear goals in mind for the interns. Help them to feel like they are part of the team. It may also be beneficial to hire more than one intern at a time. This increases productivity, prevents the intern from feeling left out from the other, already established, employees, and may also lead to competition between the interns, allowing you to truly see what each intern is able to offer and allow you to pick the best one from the group for an employment opportunity.

Do not hire interns in order to fill positions which should be filled by experienced professionals. Taking on interns may be potentially time-consuming for staff who need to train them or supervise their work. Therefore, it is important to give the interns work which they will be able to complete fully on their own. Also, give constructive feedback to interns in order to help them learn and feel that they are performing important work for your company. Finally, poll your interns at the end of the internship program to gain an understanding of how effective your internship program was so that you can improve your internship program moving forward.