While internships are indeed a pipeline for fresh talent and new faces around the office, college internship programs (like interns) sometimes need a little push to get going.
Once that push has been made, it can turn your internship program from competent to great and from an opportunity into a process that delivers consistent results.
Ways to Improve Internship Programs
What makes a great intern and how can you nurture those qualities to get the most out of your internship programs?
It actually all starts before the internship itself when employers get interns into the swing of things with a thorough vetting process and intern onboarding designed to quickly bring interns up to speed.
Tip #1: Prepare Interns for Success
Interns are a great resource for employers to draw on when it comes to rounding out research for a project coming down the pike or putting a few more hands on deck. But it takes some work and vetting to get there.
What are the primary characteristics that employers should be screening for when it comes to finding interns that are a cut above the competition? Keep an eye out for certain traits like determination and open-mindedness, problem-solving skills, and relevant experience or education that interns are bringing to the table.
You should be tailoring your intern interviews to quickly filter out the top candidates for the job – and the ones most worthy of receiving an eventual full-time job offer.
To draw out this information from your applications, ask these questions:
- Can you tell me about your background in the field?
- What do you expect to take away from this internship?
- How did you initially become interested in this company?
- What are your goals for after graduation?
- What drives you to succeed?
All of these questions are designed to efficiently identify the interns that are really passionate about the field and have the necessary enthusiasm, experience and open-mindedness to get the job done well.
Tip #2: Run an Intern Onboarding Session
Having an onboarding session or orientation for new interns is the perfect way to establish clear expectations early on. Interns should know from the outset the short- and long-term goals of the internship and how this internship fits in with the company.
Orientations should make the company ethos clear and clue interns in on what they need to do to meet future performance evaluations. Make sure to discuss required daily responsibilities and important company policies. Give an overview of the company culture and educate them on how they are expected speak with superiors and colleagues as well as present and future clients.
Tip #3: Set Up a Mentor Program
A mentor program is essential for starting off on the right foot.
When mentors first meet with their interns, they should be supportive but also set up clear and practical expectations that both nurture an intern’s development and promote contributions to your overarching organization.
One of the things that mentors don’t often think about – but actually play a huge role in the success of internships – is making sure that the mentor’s schedule is aligned with the intern's.
If there are days when mentors or interns are underused or super busy, then your schedules need to align accordingly to make up the difference and synergistically reap more from the mentor-intern relationship.
Running an all-star internship program takes work and practice. Making a few small changes can make all the difference. Stick with these tips as a starting point and you will be well on your way to attracting some of the best interns colleges have to offer.
Download the employer guide for more information on creating a successful internship program.
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