Internships can be a great way for businesses to bring in fresh talent and get new perspectives on projects and tasks. However, to make the most out of an internship program, businesses need to put in the time and effort to ensure a successful experience on both sides.
The Secrets to Running a Successful Internship Program
- Craft a well defined internship program – Before an internship job posting ever goes live, business leaders need to consider: who will manage the intern, who will mentor this intern, how will we train and develop this intern, what projects and tasks will the intern be working on and who will QA this work to ensure it meets company standards.
- Prepare for the logistical details of the internship, and consider how this works with your organization – Before an intern is onboarded, there are a number of logistical details that need to be taken care of: what is their compensation and how will this impact their motivation, what is the working schedule and where will they office (if remote, how will you handle check-ins), and what technology and security access is required.
- Onboard your intern with success - building connections with your intern can go a long way in the early stages of onboarding to make them feel a valued part of the organization and committed to the team and mission. Pre-empt their nerves on day one by introducing them to key team members and explaining the organizational structure and who does what (and why these pieces all fit together how they do). When showing them around the office, take the time to explain the “hidden rules” of the office, like what time people start thinking about lunch and everyone’s favorite happy hour spot on Wednesdays.
- Offer ongoing development opportunities - Not only do 70% of Gen Z and Millennials say this is the #1 thing they are looking for in employers, it also ensures that these new employees are productive and contributing to the team in the way you want, decreasing frustrations on the rest of the team. Take note of Ampersand’s course catalog and the detailed lessons we cover in our 50 hours of training in an effort to level the playing field for entry-level employees and onboarding.
- Schedule Check-ins - Weekly 1x1 touchpoints with interns help them stay on track, feel connected to the work they are doing, organize and have a chance to better around their goals and how these relate to the bigger company goals, and keep them engaged.
- Get buy-in from the rest of the team - Consider the change management processes and internal communication roll out plans to ensure the team is onboard with bringing on less experienced talent, and what this means in the short-and long-term. Early career professionals may be less comfortable with ambiguity and need more tangible instructions and clarity early on. Before transitioning to more autonomy in the role, and the team needs to be a part of this coaching.
- Wrapping up – The internship program should be treated as an ongoing learning experience for both the interns and the business. Take time at the end of the internship cycle to circle back and evaluate the progress your intern made on their initial goals and learning outcomes, then provide actionable feedback and ideas for next steps. Also, take feedback and consider how you can improve your internship program for the next cohort of interns.
Bonus tip: Promote from within!
One of the best ways to show your interns that they are valued members of the team is to provide them with an opportunity within the company. This sends a strong message that their hard work and dedication is paying off, and that there are opportunities for growth within the company. Internal intern hires have the benefit of launching their role with pre-existing knowledge of your company's goals and systems, and strong foundational relationships with managers and team members that can accelerate their success (and yours).
Overall, an internship program can help a company grow it's long-term talent pipeline and decrease time to full-time hires, while getting immediate assistance on work and giving support to your team after a layoff. To be successful, an internship program should have well-defined goals, clear communication between the intern and the company and clear KPIs to measure success of the program.
If you're interested in starting an internship playbook at your company, speak to our team.