Many organizations these days offer internship programs to provide students with some great learning experiences. Sure they are quite helpful for the students who can develop their skills and prepare themselves for the future but unfortunately, many organizations fail to see the value a successful internship program can create for the company. Many of them recruit interns as reduced-cost labor for taking care of the time-consuming and mundane tasks, without helping them develop their skills and knowledge. A successful internship program requires a good deal of efforts from both the interns and the company. With right techniques, the companies not only can help the interns develop their skillset but can also get valuable project support and build talent pipelines for the future. Internship programs also help employees of the organization develop their mentoring skills. A successful internship program essentially creates a win-win situation for all. In fact, such programs can be immensely beneficial for small businesses that can develop the skills of the interns and prepare them to become a key player for their company. Also, when students feel like valued employees during their internship, they are likely to be more enthusiastic about joining the organization as a full-time employee.
Here are 7 steps for developing a successful internship program.
- Provide Clear Job Description
College students have little or no experience in understanding what the employer expects and thus it’s important to provide them with a clear job description that defines their assignments, what they need to accomplish and how the company expects them to contribute to the company projects. This gives them a direction and helps them complete the internship successfully. A good job description also helps in evaluating their performances.
- Have an Internship Program Coordinator
Having a person managing the entire internship program is a great idea to ensure that both the interns and the company get maximum value out of the program. Internship coordinators can help you structure the program in way that the interns can have a collective learning experience. They also act as a point of contact in case anyone finds it difficult navigating through the program.
- Assign a Mentor
Assign a mentor for your intern who can guide them the right way. With no or very little real-world experience, the interns can easily get confused or lost in their job. A mentor can help them navigate the organization as well as their work so that the interns can learn and become proficient in their work. Assigning a good mentor can benefit both the intern as well as the organization in multiple ways.
- Keep Them Busy
While assigning work to the interns make sure they stay engaged and busy and perform to the best of their abilities. Many organizations complain that interns spend a lot of time in making personal calls etc while many interns complain that they do not have enough work to stay engaged. Therefore, keeping them busy with meaningful work is essential for a successful internship program.
- Review Their Performances Regularly
Review the performances of your interns on a regular basis and provide them with feedbacks. This helps them learn and improve their performances. However, the feedback should be constructive with an appreciation of their work and guidance on how they can improve it. Also, encourage them to ask questions and explore new territories of work. Such performance reviews can help the interns meet the organization’s expectations and add value to the projects.
- Set Reachable Goals
Set goals that are realistic and reachable. This is an important step for skill development and performance evaluation. Interns often work on multiple projects during their tenure and defining what they need to accomplish and tracking their progress based on that is essential. Also, when interns feel like they have successfully completed their job, it gives them a motivation to work better in future.
- Keep in Touch
Even after the internship program comes to an end for a particular batch of students, make sure you maintain a minimum connection with them. This might help you find a great candidate for a position in your company. Filtering out the good ones and offering them a full-time position could be a great deal as they are already trained in how things work in your company.
Best internship programs are well structured and supervised, and offer good opportunities and tools to the interns to have a great learning experience. However, it requires some careful planning and efforts on the part of organizations but, if executed in a proper way, the effort really pays off.