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Why Internship Programs Can Be an Excellent Strategy
Good internships are, simply, good business.
There is a lot to be gained from the tried-and-true internship. Internships expand upon mutual benefits; the relationship between intern and residence is about growth. In order to discover the important future of both colleagues and leaders, a good internship program promotes a healthy atmosphere of education and responsibility.
An ideal internship explores the fit between intern and employer. This can be a meaningful learning experience for everyone involved, and is an excellent strategy for growing the future successes of your business. Internships that succeed are goal oriented, engaging, and educational. They provide a safe, structured environment that promotes goals that last for the entire duration of the internship.
Internships should satisfy these main points:
- Ensure the assignment of meaningful and challenging projects
- Provide academic and career interests
- Provide adequate and necessary mentoring
- Ensure the accomplishment of goals
- Structured mentoring
- Industry relevance
- The creation of a professional network
- Real life experience
How to Structure an Internship Program
It’s imperative to determine the structure of your program and what your activities look like. Prior to hiring any intern, understand how your interns will fit within your company’s goals and culture.
- What does your organization gain from this program?
- Is your organization looking for the fulfillment of a specific project?
- Is this internship about one major project or many small ones?
- What are the tools and workspaces necessary to promote the well-being of your intern?
- What talents, academic experience and life experience do you want to see in your interns?
- Who will be primarily responsible for your interns and does this person espouse the goodwill of a mentor?
It’s important to learn about your prospective interns, structure the program around their needs, and maintain that your top priority is their growth and engagement. Look into the required hours/credit for a student’s school, and maintain the role of the internship supervisor and mentor. Decide whether or not your internship is paid or unpaid and how that fits into the goals and needs of your company.
Fundamental Internship Activities for a Stellar Intern Program
We are going to cover the following internship activity ideas:
- Intern Orientation and Onboarding
- Frequent Sessions With Mentor/Supervisor
- Intern Training and Specific Tasks
- Work and Responsibilities
- Fun Team Building Games and Events
Intern Orientation and Onboarding
We cannot overstate the importance of onboarding in your program. Interns are a great opportunity to flesh out full-time hires and potential shining stars in your company, which is why you need to make their experiences invaluable and entertaining. Your interns are seeking an important experience. Take advantage of these desires by sitting down with your interns and telling them exactly what they can expect. This sort of transparent communication with supervisors and mentors will add substantial benefits to your program.
Setting clear expectations will give everyone a better idea of what the job entails. Set your expectations via tangible items that they can add to their skill sets and portfolios (anything valuable that they can physically write in their resumes at the end of the internships experience). Activities such as team scavenger hunts are an excellent way to build friendliness during orientation. This sort of onboarding practice encourages collaboration, planning and cohesion and helps your interns feel like they are an important part of the team. Many people of millennial and Gen Z age work best in friendly environments, and they grow best when they can observe that their workplace is open and fun.
Frequent Sessions With Mentor/Supervisor
Good mental health is imperative for any successful internship. Formal evaluation by supervisors is important, as these evaluations will assess strengths and weaknesses and will be used as a focus for your programs. You can also schedule less formal evaluations with the individual interns that can be overseen by their Mentor or Training Director. In return, interns can evaluate their supervisors in return which gives invaluable insight into the success of your program; these formal and informal evaluations will build the backbone of your internship.
View these sessions as a psychological service. A work/life balance is extremely important, and when it comes to the training of your interns you need to remember that you are building the future of your company. The activities your interns engage in should be flush with the typical duties of your workplace, and a good supervisor will maintain the psychological and emotional growth of the intern as they work. If possible, schedule frequent therapy sessions (both individual and group) where your interns can be at ease in their environment.
Intern Training and Specific Tasks
As important as mental health is proper intern training, specifically training that is overseen by a Training Director. Interns should spend a few hours each week engaged in training seminars or programs that promote experiential learning and a safe environment. Proper training is also a psychological need; the reduction of frustration and the provision of necessary tools is how we as humans grow in a safe space.
There are several types of Intern Training methods that will benefit your overall program and business:
- Intern orientation is comprehensive and structured and should provide interns with all they need to do their jobs.
- Individual supervision will create a healthy, structured network of peers and staff.
- Group therapy is a valuable clinical service that will lead to a common mental space.
- Diversity seminars can pave the way for dedicated safe spaces and stimulate growth.
- Crisis intervention seminars will provide the tools necessary for student mental health issues.
- Client presentations can show off the work of your interns and give you an idea of the program’s cohesion.
- Peer consultation meetings will show off the long-term possibilities of your interns.
- Regularly held staff meetings that are open and transparent promote growth.
- Training Director meetings can give you valuable insight into the needs of your interns.
Work and Responsibilities
Working with clients, learning, and gaining invaluable insight are all huge pieces of the internship framework. Consultation, liaison relationships, training, and development are all a part of the responsibilities of the intern. Beyond the scope of the job and/or company, it’s important for interns to increase their awareness and knowledge of multicultural issues. Being a model employee is more than managing resources or crunching numbers; engaging with the community and knowing how different issues impact the world at large are invaluable aspects of being a responsible piece of your company.
Decide how individual and group projects factor into your internship and your company and how those projects will impact your needs. Your interns need to learn how to work with one another, with your clients, with your staff, and most importantly, themselves. Craft a sample work week for your interns to engage in and allow them time at the end of it to discuss what they learned, how challenges were handled, and give them a reflective moment to go over their strengths and weaknesses.
Fun Team Building Games and Events
Don’t forget, your internship isn’t just about hard work! Growth happens in a variety of different ways, and team building is an incredibly important part of the work/life balance. Fun, exciting team building games and events will encourage your interns to work together and see your company as more than just a potential job. Learning Circles, Trivia, Intern Lunches, Game Nights, Talent Shows and more host a variety of ways for your enjoyments to laugh, learn, and grow with one another in a safe and united space. These Virtual Intern Event Ideas are great to seed through your week and use as both a relaxing time for your interns and an informational time for you and your staff.
The last piece for your exceptional internship program is the most important one: offboarding. You’ve invested time, energy and money into the training of your interns and their prospective futures. They now feel comfortable with your company and the environment you’ve crafted. It’s time to see the fruits of this relationship ripen.
Your interns have had a great experience, so make sure their offboarding is as memorable as the rest of their time with you has been. Look at their defining moments from through the weeks and months spent with you, and really ask yourself if the experience you provided was impactful, educational, and fun. Sit down with your interns and go over the program as a whole. Ask them pointed questions that give you insight into future jobs and experiences. Ask them confidently about what they thought they gained as an intern for your company. At the end of everything, keep it fun. Virtual intern event ideas abound, and during your offboarding procedures can cement the memories your interns had in your program.
Going over a professional offboarding survey provides you with invaluable data about what your intern learned and what your company did well. In this situation, each party wants to walk away feeling like they gained something important and invaluable. Think about it—this could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship!
At the end of the day, an important and impactful internship program is built upon every single piece listed above. You’re looking for a way to grow your company in a wholesome and necessary way, and your interns are looking for a bright future. By providing a great experience and listening to your interns, you can make sure that this investment is a crucial step forward for your company.