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|How to Start an Internship Program
decided to start an internship program but are not sure where to begin.
The process can seem overwhelming, but, in reality, setting up an
internship program is similar to starting any new program or project:
It's crucial you have a plan. Once you do, however, it's as easy as
checking items off a list until that plan is put into action. Knowing
how to start an internship program is no different.
programs offer tremendous benefits to both big and small businesses. To
help you reap these benefits, here are a few steps to follow to make the
internship experience a positive one for both you and your interns.
Learn about the landscape. Your first step is to gain a general understanding of the internship arena: What exactly is an internship? What
are interns looking for in a host organization? Using internships.com
as your headquarters, read and research as much as possible about the
Evaluate your organization.
Once you get a feel for what an internship program entails, your next
step is to conduct an internal assessment of your company's needs and
Some aspects to consider are whether you will pay
interns, or how you can otherwise compensate intern efforts; whether
your company can support multiple interns; the availability of
meaningful work for interns; the type of projects that can be assigned;
your ideal duration and time of year to host interns; and how your
physical space and equipment will accommodate additional individuals.
Learn about legality.
Before you design your program, it's wise to get a grasp on the legal
ramifications of hosting interns in your state: minimum wage
requirements, workers' compensation issues, safety and harassment
policies, termination guidelines, and how other traditional employee
benefits and business responsibilities do or don't apply to interns.
a host organization, the best way to cover your bases legally is to
consult with your company's legal counsel or contact an employment law
professional...before you begin the hiring process.
Understand college credit. It's a common misconception that internships are always in exchange for college or university credit. Yes, an internship is a learning experience. But whether or not school credit is obtained is strictly between the student and his or her school.
Gain business-wide backing.
For an internship to succeed, it's necessary to get the entire business
on board. From the CEO to senior and junior management, without
big-picture buy-in, interns won't feel welcome, and it will be a
constant struggle to allocate resources.
The best way to get the
green light? Prepare a presentation explaining how your business can
benefit from an internship program as well as how the program itself can
help your organization reach its objectives.
Design the program.The
key component in setting up an internship is to create the structure
itself. A comprehensive internship structure should include information
on learning objectives, daily responsibilities, short- and long-term
projects, supervisor assignments, evaluation procedures, policies and
expectations, and orientation and off-boarding processes, to name the
Put together a compensation plan.
Develop your intern salary or compensation structure. Research current
trends and intern expectations; then designate funds, create a budget,
and gain the necessary financial approval.
Having staff members take ownership of key roles and responsibilities
ensures implementation will move forward and that the internship program
will run smoothly once in place. But it doesn't end there. Make sure
intern supervisors have the time and resources to effectively manage the
participants and the program itself.
Select a start date for interns.
Leaving your launch date open-ended almost guarantees procrastination.
Instead, setting a date about 7 to 10 weeks out will facilitate proper
Post the position.
Posting openings on internships.com gives you exposure to the top
student talent. Filling out the position profile is simple and allows
you to explain about the position, the industry, and the benefits of
working for your business.
Start by identifying the specific skills, traits, and training you're
looking for. Next, devise a system for evaluating resumes and
submissions to decide which prospective interns you will interview.
Interview, select, and hire interns.
Conduct interviews and then perform background checks as well as
checking the references of your top contenders. When making final
decisions, be sure the direct supervisor has a say in selecting a
candidate. Finally, refer to your program structure (designed in step
six) to begin your on-boarding and orientation processes.