The Internship Guide for Employers
Most companies and organisations today offer internship programs; a short training period where students get the taste of what a real work environment really is, and through which they are exposed to problem-solving, time management, risks and initiative taking, and decision-making, to name a few skills and concepts.
Internships have proved to be very beneficial for students; helping them gain new skills and experiences, and boosting their CVs.
But, what about the other side; the employers, companies, and organisations? What do they get out of internship programs? Why do they even bother?
When a company or organisation recruits interns, this usually means a bigger team and more people in the office, working on job descriptions for them and explaining the business and some of its inner workings to temporary interns who will only be there for a few weeks or months, not to mention, employees taking out of their own time to help teach and guide these interns.
To some, this might sound like a complete hassle to go through, and others may wonder if it is even worth it.
On one hand, internships do help interns gain real experience, learn new skills, and boost their CVs, but, on the other hand, they also have numerous benefits to employers as well.
A company or organisation that plans and implements an internship program has a lot to gain, as the benefits of doing this include:
Interns can be very productive.
You might have a short-term project that needs temporary staff to work on, or an unplanned project that requires immediate attention, thus, you can really use all the extra help you can get.
In this case, interns can be a great addition to your team.
Give them clear instructions and the objectives they’re expected to accomplish, and watch as the magic happens.
Moreover, they can do all this work without expecting any hiring commitment from you. They are only there to learn.
In other words, you get a team willing to work in your company or organisation, increase the quality of work and productivity, and all they want in return is a genuine learning experience and a recommendation letter.
Interns are innovative and creative.
Interns today are Digital Natives, born into the digital world and have a very good understanding of what happens in the online world.
This can be very beneficial for you as you can learn from them and gain an insight into their generation’s mindset, especially if they are your target audience, which might lead to improving your products and services to better meet their needs.
Moreover, they are already exposed to a world beyond the physical boundaries of where they live; thus, they can bring fresh ideas, new perspectives, and creative ways to solve problems and minimize risks.
Interns can make great entry-level employees.
Imagine having an interview process that goes on for a few months, one that goes beyond a few meetings, applications, and questions.
This is what having an internship program can do.
If you’re looking to hire entry-level employees, your pool of previous interns is a great place to look, as you have already seen their work quality and dedication, and have reports on them and their performance; so, you know exactly what these interns are capable of and what they can bring to your company or organisation.
Interns can make great leaders out of your employees.
Having interns is an easy and efficient way to ensure the growth and development of your own employees, as they are usually the ones who lead the interns through the work process, teach them new skills, and help them do work tasks, share ideas, and solve problems.
Having interns is a guaranteed way to help your employees become better leaders, which will eventually lead to the development of your own business.
Now that the benefits of having an internship program are out of the way, there are other questions that still persist: How to plan and implement a good internship program that is beneficial to all parties involved, and how to attract more students to be interns?
Planning and implementing a good internship program will require you to do a few things prior to advertising your need for interns:
Set your goals and objectives, and what you want to get out of this internship program, to ensure that they are met at the end of the program.
Know the goals and objectives of the interns, and ensure that the roles, responsibilities, and tasks assigned to them will help them achieve these objectives, as this will only make them want to work harder and give back more to the organisation.
As for the second question, there are a few things that you can do to attract more interns; such as:
Advertise in the right places.
To do so, you need to determine your target audience first. For example, if you are a marketing and advertising company, it will do you no good to advertise for interns in IT or Engineering colleges.
Also, use the right communication channel in advertising, whether it’s online or offline, and which type in each; for example: printed flyers, social media posts, emails, ...etc.
Be honest and clear.
Be straightforward from the start. Tell the potential interns what to expect, what they’ll learn, and what will be expected from them.
Promise growth, and keep that promise.
Interns look for programs that will actually teach them something; so, let them know what they will learn and how it will benefit them in their lives later on, and keep that promise when they do join your organisation.
Help them meet their goals.
Most probably, you conducted an interview with the interns before they joined the organisation, and most probably, you asked them what there objectives for the internship program were. However, you might have or have not received clear answers with set objectives from them.
If your interns don’t have clear goals and objectives, encourage them to set them and help them achieve these goals and objectives.
So, when the next student vacation comes, whether it be summer break, winter break, mid-term break, or end-of-term break, have an internship program ready; and don’t do it just because everyone else is, or to have errand and coffee boys and girls running around the office doing small, menial, and mindless tasks, but to really benefit from their presence, insights, perspectives, and work.
Written by Yasmine Mokhtar