April often signals a change in seasons. For college students, it also signals a shift in focus from midterm exams to job hunting. It makes April the perfect time for Internship Awareness Month! Interns make great additions to organizations and the relationships should be mutually beneficial. Here are some recommendations to ensure that the internship experience is transformative and effective for all participants.
Before You Start Recruiting
This is an important time to have conversations with managers in various departments to establish needs. Is there a project that could use a fresh pair of eyes in order to achieve a new milestone or deadline? Are there specific tasks that need to be completed in order to move the organization's mission? This analysis will help the organization establish a detailed job description that will be utilized to recruit prospective candidates. However, it's important to remember that interns are not legally defined as employees, which should be considered when deciding what work they will perform. The types of tasks delegated to an intern should complement regular employees in your organization.
The recruiting process is an excellent way to enhance your organization's mission and employer brand. Unlike recruiting for regular employees, where targeted recruiting is often recommended, it can be extremely beneficial to cast a wider net when sourcing for interns. Submitting your organization's job description to all of the local schools that facilitate curriculum related to your organization's needs will make this process easier.
Selection & Onboarding
It's important to be as transparent as possible during the selection process. Use the job description as a framework for creating the learning agreement. Learning agreements have multiple benefits. They can be used to outline specific tasks and responsibilities, connect the intern goals to their area of study, and can serve as the performance management document used for check-ins and final grade submissions.
Managing the Intern Experience
Effective internship programs support the intern in two ways. Firstly, they provide opportunities to improve or gain new technical skills. Secondly, they create an environment to establish relationships that aid in the development of soft skills. Mastering public speaking and networking is just as important as mastering software such as Microsoft Excel or Razorfish. Finding a balance that doesn't overwhelm the intern or the employee is key.
Establishing an internship program could help many organizations to create ambassadors for their missions. They will often go back to their institutions and talk to their peers about their experience. If the experience is positive, the results could be the creation of an organic pipeline to help your organization to grow. Reach out to your HR Advisor if you have any questions regarding creating and maintaining an internship program at your organization.