There is a reason why all big companies have a well thought of internship program integrated in their system. An internship program attracts qualified entry-level candidates, saves the company money and helps the student understand the company culture and get trained for their position. Small and Medium Businesses can too benefit immensely from hiring interns. If hiring and managing interns is new to you & your business, there are several lessons you can learn from the experiences of others. As you consider starting an internship program for your small business, keep these tips in mind:
Should you pay your interns? This is an important question, possibly affecting the direction of your whole program.
Many experts urge small businesses to pay their interns. Doing so will bring in more qualified and diverse candidates who become happy, engaged interns–all of which leads to better overall results. Your company may not be big enough yet to attract college students and young professionals who are willing to work for free in order to have a well-known name on their resume. Alternatively, you can collaborate with a Job Board to structure the program for you which can help you get unpaid and paid interns.
Where do you find the best internship candidates? You should be looking for ambitious and driven college students and new graduates. Often the best way to do this is to attend a related college class as a guest speaker. This gives you face time with the students as well as academic advisors and professors who can share internship information with other students.
Make sure you list your programs on all job boards and you participate in offline college events, career fairs and use LinkedIn to spread the word about the internship. The smaller your business is the tougher it is to attract the right candidate. So, do consider teaming up with one of the job boards to help you promote your internship and do all the leg work.
The internship description, learning outcome for students and expectation from the role must be mentioned clearly. As you accurately and positively share these details, you’ll hopefully attract a large pool of applicants and consistent pipeline of potential hires.
Have a Program Coordinator
Having a person in charge of your interns is crucial to building a program that pushes candidates and ensures they’re getting the most out of their experience. The best part is, for small businesses, this position doesn’t need to be a separate full-time position. Also, this person can help your HR during the recruiting process as they will be able to sell the program more passionately to young minds.
Internship coordinators can build a program that ensures your interns are have a collective learning experience. From teaching business topics to giving career advice and training the interns to be successful at their job, a good intern coordinator will help interns to get the most out of the program. This in turn will get them talking to their peers about the program and create a buzz around your internship.
Create an Intern Toolkit
A toolkit can provide an intern with answers to all the frequently asked questions. It provides interns with an overview of the company and its programs, and details about its values. It also gives them information on what to expect and what is expected of them in terms of mentoring, taking charge of their career, building a personal brand, managing their future, socializing, networking, intern events such as the project fair, and benefits. Finally, it lists key resources and contacts that are available to them during their time at the company.
An effective toolkit is based on the questions interns ask their managers —Answer these questions for them. Also, empower them with resources and contacts so they can find information on their own.
Make sure the toolkit reflects your organization—Ensure that the toolkit represents your organization’s culture, mission, and values.
Keep it fresh—Update your toolkit at least once a year so it will have the most current information and can include answers to new questions or requests that your interns and managers have.
Providing a mentor means giving interns an avenue for personalized feedback on matters that extend beyond their work. You want to provide a dynamic feedback experience for the intern, as they will get feedback from their program coordinator and their boss you would ideally want to assign a junior level employee as a ‘mate’ to create a relaxed informal relationship that promotes professional growth and development. If your team is not that big then the program coordinator can play this role too. However, one must remember interns require a bit of nurturing.
Setting goals for your interns and revisiting their progress throughout their tenure is another important step in development. Interns will work on two or three major projects, depending on the length of their internship. The key is tracking their progress and making sure there’s a defined beginning, middle, and end to their work.
Feedback from students about the program after they complete their time at the business will help you further build on your program. The insight can yield information about how the interns perceive your company and how their experience was. The better their time was at your company the more likely they are to recommend it to their friends.
Starting an internship program for your business requires time and meticulous planning. An internship program that is not well thought of can do more harm than good. If your company does not have the time to plan out the program you can always reach out to us. ECA Internships is a one stop internship management solution, whether you need extra help on projects or looking for fresh talent. Our services come at no additional cost to your company and all our interns are covered by workers insurance. We have over the years worked with over 500 companies and helped them hire more than 7500 students. Talk to our internship management expert to learn more.