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9 Tips To Improve Your Internship Program

Internships programs have proven to be one of the most valuable resources for companies searching for ideal employees. Internships give companies the opportunity to take a closer look at the people they could potentially hire in the future. It serves as an extended interview and allows employers to observe the work ethic, the knowledge, the skill set, and the attitude of a potential employee. It’s one of the best ways to find new team members, grow your business, and reach your goals as a company. Internships allow you to have a fresh set of eyes on current company problems and projects.

To ensure both a company and a student gets the most out of an internship, here are some quick tips for businesses with current internship programs.

Have a Direct Line with the Students

Focus on communicating and having a direct line to the students. One of the best ways that companies do this is by connecting and leveraging the managers of different departments. Work closely with Career Services to make sure that students know when you’re on campus. Make your message clear and known. If you are looking for interns or have opportunities available, make it easy and award students to reach out to you. Make sure all types of communication paths are open and students can get information from you quickly.

Get to Know Your Interns

Before any work begins, take the time to sit down with each of your interns and learn more about them. Find out why they are here, what their career goals are, and what they hope to achieve during their time with your company. This will help you understand their motives and give you a better idea of how to help them during the internship. This is also a great opportunity for you to set expectations with them.

Meaningful Work

Give your interns the opportunity to do work that matters and work that contributes to the bottom line. Have them work on real projects, real problems, and deal with real issues of company. They will get more out of their time with your company if they do meaningful work and have the chance to further develop and apply their current skills. In fact, recent studies show that 84% of students said that the opportunity to apply developed job-specific skills was highly important. You will get to see firsthand how interns would solve real problems within your company and who knows, they might see something you didn’t before.

Focus on the Development Side

The question you need to be asking yourself is: how are you developing people to become full-time employees? An internship is a 3-month opportunity to learn about these students, teach them, and shape them into the employees that you want. Focus on developing your interns; it plays a huge role on the employee they will go on to become.

Keeping Interns Engaged

Make sure your interns are engaged the whole time they are working for you. Keep them involved, make them feel valued, and make it worth your time investment. Don’t just give them busy work and close the door. Have a plan for different projects with clear objectives in mind. Put them in the heart of the company and let them participate in all the ins and outs. An engaged intern will always do a better job and produce better results for you.

Mentoring and Networking

One of the reasons why internships are valuable to students is because of the opportunity to network. As a company, make sure you give interns the chance to connect with other interns and professionals. Hosting networking events, lunch & learns, or social gatherings are a great way to keep interns engaged and allow them to meet the right people. Provide them with the opportunity to shake hands with professionals in the industry and acquire industry mentors.

Giving Feedback

Remember that these interns are at your company to learn and extend their knowledge. The best way for them to achieve that is by receiving structured feedback from you. Be honest, be constructive, and focus on helping them get better. Interns are looking for feedback. They are there to learn from real professionals within the industry.

Getting Feedback

Along with giving feedback, make sure you allow time to

get feedback

. Create a safe place for interns to be honest without fear of not getting hired. Getting honest feedback from interns can help improve the overall program and even some aspects of your business.

Stay Connected

Stay connected with interns after they leave. If you felt that they were a good fit for the company, let them know about upcoming opportunities and new job openings. Keep relationships open and make sure they know there is always an open door. This could potentially be a future employee. Treat them like they are already apart of the work family.