Ask An HR Expert: How do I create a successful internship program?

Today’s question is “How do I create a successful internship program?”

Hello and welcome to another episode of Ask an HR Expert. I am Katie Stewart, M.A., PHR, CLRL with Tandem HR. Today, I have a guest with me. A special welcome to Rebecca Buckland, also a Tandem HR expert. The question we’re answering today is how do I create a successful internship program?

Katie: Rebecca has a lot of success in this area so I asked her to share her top tips. Rebecca, if you could share your top two or three tips with an organization what would you say to them?

Rebecca: Sure! First, thank you for having me this morning. It is certainly an honor. Internship programs – it’s a big topic and not a small task.

Rebecca: An internship program is a big task, a big responsibility for both the organization and also the interns themselves. Here are some of my top tips:

Tip #1: You need to ensure that you have an organizational agreement.

What is the purpose of your internship program? What objectives do you want to meet through the program? Where do you need them and for how long? What tasks are they going to do? You have to make sure that the organization agrees to this before you even consider bringing on an intern or an internship program.

You want to create a plan for your internship program. Without a plan, it will not be successful.

Tip #2: While interns are generally assigned to a specific department and will naturally have tasks within those departments, it’s important they have exposure to your entire organization.

Build into your plan time for them to shadow other departments. Getting exposure to other departments is something that we sometimes forget. Our interns leave us and talk about our organization. We want to make good impressions and we want them to have exposure within the departments. We want them to understand our whole organization, so when they talk about our company they really understand and know what they’re speaking about.

Interns will make great marketers if we do it right. Gary Vee actually has a really funny vlog about internship programs and more specifically how organizations don’t invest nor teach their interns. He talks about how they use or abuse them. I challenge each of you if you’re creating an internship program, to make sure that the time the intern spends with you is valuable and that they actually learn through this process.

Tip #3: Another important component of a successful internship program is that the interns have a point person.

Someone who is designated for these interns if they have questions or concerns. This point person should have a good understanding of the full internship program and each individual’s objectives. As a result, this person should be a mentor to these interns throughout the program.

Katie: Great tips! I definitely agree with Gary Vee. it seems like a lot of times people bring in interns just to file or answer the phones. They bring them in to fill in an area that is not something that’s going to be valuable to both the organization and the interns. These are great tips on how do I create a successful internship program Thank you so much, Rebecca, and thank you again for joining us for Ask an HR Expert!

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