Building a Successful Internship Program

Stacie Garlieb
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Key Takeaways
​Inter​ns are a great way to help a business by bringing in new ideas and getting​​ more work done. 

​In this economy, employers may be looking for ways to maximize each full time employees working time.  Hiring interns can serve several purposes for the employer who is, or will be looking to hire new employees in the future. Depending on the organization, interns may have been used in the past or this could be a completely new concept.  Interns can provide value in different ways based on your current organization structure.

For companies looking to hire FTEs, hiring an intern is a cost effective method for recruiting.  These programs can also be a way to provide professional development for Gen Y’ers who need practical experience, either at the entry level or in mentoring the actual interns.  From a productivity perspective, interns can perform tactful and tedious work that an employer may not want FTEs doing.

Strategically, interns will have the youngest set of eyes to examine your business.  Whether you have a less tenured team or not, an intern may have the freshest viewpoint to identify opportunities, or potentially think outside the box.  Interns also allow the FTEs time to focus on their strategic responsibilities and spend more time determining higher level processes and execution.  The ability to get ‘out of the weeds’ may re-energize your team to execute more effectively.

Once you decide that interns could be a beneficial part of your organization, it is important to understand and plan for 100% retention.  Nothing is more frustrating than hiring someone in a part-time capacity to support full time employees and then have turnover.  The most effective ways to increase retention of interns include:

  • Establish expectations for their work ethic during the interview process
  • Discuss the objectives and goals of the position as part of the initial recruiting stage
  • Create meaningful, practical work experiences that support any administrative tasks in the role
  • After the intern(s) are on board, consistent follow up is a key to excellent performance
  • Determine who will be a mentor or coach for the intern – this may be someone besides their direct manager
  • Set measurable timelines and goals and keep the intern accountable for reporting their progress against them
  • Provide candid feedback during the internship and at the end

Successful internship programs can create opportunities for internal development of existing employees, identify bench strength for expansion or backfill, and provide a way to offer professional development to our future full time workforce.

Do you have a question about marketing or business and want advice from experts in the field? Get answers from some of the best CEOs, Professors, or Managers by submitting your questions to AskExpert@ama.org!


Author Bio:

Stacie Garlieb
Stacie Garlieb is the President of Successful Impressions. For more information about the resources her company provides including helpful books and resources to guide you through building your resume and your job search, go to www.successfulimpressions.net and www.bestresumebuilder.com.​​
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