Running a quality summer internship program for college students requires intense planning and consideration. In order to keep your interns engaged, guarantee they get the most out of it, and ensure the company benefits from their work and training, there are some important factors to consider:
1. Clear Goals and Expectations: Establishing clear goals and expectations that empower the intern to excel is imperative. By outlining the specific tasks, projects, and responsibilities that align with their academic and career interest, companies will be able to more effectively integrate their interns into their workforce and foster a driven environment. This allows for less busy work and increased productivity and ensures the intern can have as meaningful an experience as possible. Instead of merely being a burden to the company as an additional person to train, proper goals can lead to added productivity.
2. Structured Onboarding: Start the internship with a comprehensive orientation session to introduce interns to your organization, its culture, and its team members. Provide them with necessary resources, such as an employee handbook, company policies, and relevant tools or software. This helps to acclimate the intern to their role, the company's philosophies, and what the company has to offer. This helps to lay a solid foundation for the interns to thrive during the internship. Companies need to be sufficient with this so their interns are able to represent the company well in the marketplace.
3. Mentoring and Supervision: Assign the intern a dedicated mentor or supervisor to guide them throughout the internship. Regular check-ins, provide feedback and ensure that interns have someone to turn to. Mentors allow interns to adapt to the environment faster and provide a point of contact to lean on for support and guidance. Additionally, it frees up the rest of the staff from needing to provide constant guidance.
4. Rotational Experiences: Offering interns the chance to work in different departments or teams within the organization helps the intern learn their strengths and weaknesses as well as develop their further aspirations. This allows interns to gain exposure to various areas of the business and understand how different functions work together. If you allow for direct feedback from interns to specific areas of the organization, you will get a valuable perspective from an outside set of eyes that knows the ins and outs of your culture and your organization.
5. Training and Development: Provide interns with training sessions, workshops, and seminars that enhance their skills and knowledge. This could include technical training, soft skills development, or industry-specific knowledge. This also helps to identify the skills that need to be worked on and provides structured learning opportunities. It also exercises the company’s ability to continually develop its training systems for essential programs.
6. Networking Opportunities: Encourage interns to attend networking events and arrange meetings for them with employees from different levels of the organization. Whether your intern returns to work for you full-time or ends up in another company, they can never have too many friends and colleagues in the industry.
7. Regular Communication: Maintain open lines of communication with interns, addressing their concerns, and providing updates on organizational activities. Regular check-ins provide time for interns to share their ideas, insights, and questions, fostering a collaborative environment. Don’t forget to acknowledge an intern upon success which helps to motivate them to continue to give 100%. Companies need to utilize frequent communication to make sure their interns are on the right path as well as being most effective during their time. Communication is critical in creating any productive working environment.
To provide an effective internship for both the intern and the business, companies need to prioritize the following list above. By addressing these areas, companies will create an environment where interns can learn and grow while also providing meaningful contributions to the organization.
Nina Karlin is a student athlete at Bryant University, currently pursuing a degree in entrepreneurship. After establishing her own business at the age of 9, she has worked for four start ups and small businesses honing her social media management skills. Karlin's aspiration is to one day present her innovative product on Shark Tank. Karlin was a part of the US women's basketball team that won a gold medal at the 2022 Maccabiah World Games in Israel.