Posted by Tessa Wegert on March 25, 2016
With summer quickly approaching, it’s time to start thinking about company barbecues, summer hours…and interns. Every year, thousands of businesses invest in student workers and recent grads, but in order for an internship program to make sense, it has to benefit both the candidates and the company.
Let’s look at five steps you can take to make this year’s internship program your best yet.
Analyze Your Needs
With many employees off on vacation during the summer months, it’s the perfect time to bring in an extra pair of hands—but do you have a strategy for leveraging your intern’s energies? Can you provide enough work to keep your intern busy?
Before you post for the position, conduct an honest assessment of your organization’s needs. Identify specific projects that could use some assistance. An intern can be especially useful for undertakings that your full-time staff doesn’t have time to complete, like those new client case studies or that blog redesign; a fresh perspective might be just what you need to get them off the ground.
Since interns are also potential new hires, be sure to consider whether you currently have the financial resources to expand your workforce. If all goes well, odds are good you’ll want to snap up your recent grad for a full-time job come fall.
Prioritize Passion and Independence
There’s more to the ideal intern than someone who wants to bulk up their resume. Look for traits like passion and independence in your candidates, and ask questions that will give you greater insight into their goals. Is your potential intern hoping to parlay this summer job into a career? Does he or she exhibit a desire to work hard to make that happen?
You’ll find clues to this in their resume as well. Seek out students who already have some experience in your field. Managing the Facebook and Twitter pages for their Lacrosse team displays a love of online promotion. Regularly contributing articles to the school’s student magazine says a lot about their work ethic and tenacity. Even with a veteran employee to guide them, interns should be self-starters who are eager to make the most of the opportunity.
Convey Your Culture
Your company culture is a huge part of your business, and something you’ve worked hard to create. It’s vital, therefore, that you share as much about your brand identity, mission, and mindset with candidates as you can, both during the interview process and once they arrive at your office with coffee in hand. A good company culture can increase productivity and morale, and every new employee that you bring into the mix affects the office dynamic. If someone isn’t a fit, they just won’t feel comfortable—and neither will you.
Assign a Mentor
When surveyed about internships, more than 60 percent of college students said they view mentorship as a “very important part” of the experience. Pair your intern with an employee or executive who can guide them through the months to come. Besides being someone who operates in the same department as your new addition, this person should have years of experience and plenty of knowledge to share.
They should also be able to provide your intern with meaningful work, useful feedback, and introductions to other employees and departments relevant to the role—all while making them feel welcome in their new environment. They should also help interns network and establish industry contacts in case a paying position with your own company isn’t in the cards.
If you decide to move forward with an internship program, keep in mind that it should mimic the real-world experience of working at your company. You won’t be doing your intern any favors by giving them nothing but busywork or relegating them to a corner.
Balance satisfying assignments with the duller daily tasks required of the job. Set actual deadlines, with real consequences. It’s the single best way to make certain that interns come away with a realistic impression of the career, the commitment involved, and the road to success. It might even transform them into just the kind of paid employee you’re looking for.
If you’re ready to invest in the future of student workers and recent grads, we can help.
At Paladin, we have a pool of thousands of pre-screened and highly qualified creative and marketing candidates for you to choose from for your internship program.