Six Elements of a Value-Added Internship Program for Your Private Business

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Starting an Internship program for your business requires clear objectives, a solid plan and disciplined oversight to run smoothly. Intern recruiting starts as early as February – best to approach a local school where your firm already has a relationship or where a curriculum matches your organization’s needs.

Both the student and the business have shared objectives and expectations – both seek a productive experience and the opportunity to learn valuable skills. Internship programs have always been a great source of talent for firms and opportunities for students. It starts with defining the purpose and impact of the internship on your business.

Essentials for building a successful Internship Program:

  1. Establish a clear objective (i.e. Improve or update the firm’s prospect files or expand the firm’s Social Networking reach)
  2. Assign a title (i.e., Sales Intern, Account Executive Intern, Marketing Intern, etc.)
  3. Align the Intern to two individuals: One should be the direct reporting manager and the other individual should be a mentor (for best results make sure the mentor has the same area of subject matter expertise)
  4. Map out a Training Plan: The intern will need formal orientation to your business PLUS subject matter or product training. You can blend the training schedule with an increasing amount of work responsibilities. Training needs to be measurable. While department round robins seem like a great idea on paper, to be successful they need to link in assignments and follow up.
  5. Empower the Intern to Impact the Organization: Plan ahead. Since this is a college student, minimize the clerical duties. Select meaningful projects and assignments that will bring value to your organization. Examples might include social networking postings or content creation for newsletters; workflow analysis and updates; procedure guides for specific positions; identify and centralize key forms on a shared drive for use by others in the organization, etc.
  6. Supervise the Intern: Start the week with a clear plan and goals. End the week with summary and feedback including positive achievements and encouragement for further growth. Be ready to increase responsibilities for the Intern if they are performing at a top-level. If the Intern appears to be achieving all assignments above average and fits within the company’s culture, be sure to discuss full time/future employment before their assignment ends.

Aim to make the internship a victory for both the student and your business. If you have recruited well and created a successful internship program, the success will lead to full time job offers and hires that will carry an immediate impact on your firm.

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