As a leading staffing agency, Peoplelink knows that interns can either be a headache – or an amazing resource. It’s all in how you develop your program and manage its participants. To help ensure you get the most out of your interns, here are some tips for running an effective internship program:
Keep It Legal
The goal of any internship program should be to educate and train interns – not access unpaid labor. And in fact, according to the Department of Labor, under the Fair Labor Standards Act, internships should focus on benefits to the intern. In addition, interns cannot be used to replace workers who are paid. That’s why, when devising your internship program, you need to approach it as a learning experience, not a way to hire free labor.
Create the Rules
Before launching your internship program, you need to create some rules and expectations first. For instance:
- What are the eligibility requirements for the internship? Does a participant need to be enrolled in school; maintain a certain GPA; hold a specific degree or be enrolled in a particular major; or have certain skills and experience?
- How much time will you expect an intern to be on hand? What days of the week? For how many hours?
- What will the intern’s duties be?
- When will the internship start and for how long will it last?
- Will you compensate an intern? If so, how much will you pay?
Look at the Long Term
It’s true that the primary focus of any internship program should be to help interns learn and develop. However, that doesn’t mean your company can’t benefit from the arrangement, as well.
When creating your internship program, identify areas in which you see growth or challenges down the line for your organization. That way, you can hire interns and groom the most talented ones to help accomplish long-term goals or overcome obstacles or challenges you foresee the company facing in the future.
Focus on Practical Skills
Interns should walk away from the experience at your company with a variety of practical skills under their belt. That means filling the gap left by classroom learning alone.
Even if you hire an intern to perform a very specific role, make sure they are exposed to a variety of learning experiences and acquire diverse and tangible skills that they can use regardless of the career track they pursue in the future. Examples of these skills include learning to present to an audience at a meeting and becoming comfortable with industry standard technology.
Just like any new hire, an intern will need to know the rules, regulations and policies of your workplace. Simple issues such as where to park, how much time they get for lunch, whether they need an ID card, and important company rules should be addressed.
Match Them With a Mentor
While it’s important for interns to connect with many different people – at different levels – within your organization, they should each have one individual who is their “go to” person for questions, guidance, concerns, and advice. In addition, there should be time scheduled on a regular basis for each mentor to spend time with interns and provide constructive feedback.
Follow the tips above and an internship program can benefit your company in a big way. Not only will you access fresh talent and perspectives, but you can hopefully train your next star employee in the process.
Need More Help Hiring “A Team” Talent?
If you do, let Peoplelink know. As a leading staffing agency, we’ve successfully placed more than 150,000 professionals in temporary and full-time positions over the past 20 years. And we can help you find your next great hire. Contact us today to learn more.