Believe it or not, the spring internship season is almost upon us and many companies are already well into the process of selecting their newest recruits. Internships provide valuable opportunities for companies to give back to their communities and foster development in young and eager professionals with the hopes that they may eventually be recruited into valuable, long-term employees. So, the question begs to be asked, How does your internship program stack up? If you’re interested in learning how you can create a killer internship program that will have young professionals from all over breaking down the doors to work for your company, look no further than these next few lines.
1. Offer relocation assistance
Don't let your cognitive biases prevent you from considering this worthwhile tactic. Offering relocation assistance for interns is becoming an increasingly popular tactic used by businesses. In fact, according to a recent NACE survey, 54% of respondents cited that they offered relocation assistance to their interns in some way, shape or form such as through housing stipends or moving allowances.
The truth of the matter is that college students are more than willing to relocate in order to gain the opportunity to work under a valuable internship program. This is especially the case given they have a blanket of security knowing that their work has a defined period of time and that they will be able to simply move back to their campus at the end of summer without worry.
Internships serve as a way for young and eager college students to gain valuable experience in the industry of their choosing, but it is also a big step for them in their lives. Helping provide them with a seamless relocation experience can ease pressure, anxiety or concerns they may have about stepping out into the real world in a new environment in order to jumpstart their careers in adulthood. Plus, testing the waters with a temporary relocation boost their confidence in the event that future job opportunities should arise within your company after graduation.
But it’s not just interns that can benefit from the prospect of relocation assistance. Companies too can reap the rewards of widening their candidate pool by making themselves available to candidates from all over the country.
2. Foster group cohesion
Humans to a certain degree naturally feel compelled to belong to a group. We need to feel a sense of belonging; a sense of community. We crave cohesion and togetherness and when it comes to the workplace, this is especially the case. Your interns will already feel somewhat isolated being that they are most likely the youngest and most inexperienced individuals working with your company. As a result, take steps to foster a sense of cohesion not just among your interns as a group, but with the entire company and other employees as a whole. Many individuals struggle to get the work-life balance just right and as a result, often times these lines are blurred. Help them find that sense of togetherness and friendship need so that your interns can truly thrive in the workplace.
The solution to this could be as simple as setting up an onboarding program for new recruits so they have the chance to learn about the company, their positions and their responsibilities together with one another. Or, for instance, you could host a company-wide welcome party for your new recruits to make them feel appreciated. Have a meeting with key persons in your departments and emphasize the desire to create an inclusive and cohesive atmosphere for your interns. Stress the importance of creating a friendly, open and agreeable environment where they are seen as peers rather than company errand-runners and paper pushers. This in turn will provide them with the opportunity to thrive and to truly enjoy the valuable experience they have working with your company.
3. Create a mentorship program
Did you know that according to Entrepreneur.com, a whopping 80% of CEOs have had mentors at some point in their lives? Even more interesting is the fact that according to HR Daily Advisor, 76% of individual with mentor believe that their relationship with these individuals are important to their overall success.
Don’t take for granted the value of mentorship on your employees, especially your interns. After all, for many of them, your internship program will be the first step they’re taking into the adult world and the future of their careers. Take the time to provide them with adequate guidance and help along the way by setting up a mentorship program within your company.
When it comes to assignments, mentors should generally be executives who work within the scope of your intern’s primary interest. However, selection is key when it comes to efficacy. Choose individuals who are enthusiastic about the role and eager to provide advice and guidance to your young recruits. Mentorship isn’t just about teaching young recruits about the ins and outs of their field, but also providing them with a level of wisdom and support about life as well.
Ideally, mentors should be assigned based on not just skill set, but personality. Do your best to break down any potential communication barriers as well. For instance, you could set up a closed social media group and invite company mentors to interact with interns on a regular basis. The goal isn’t simply to provide them with a professional reference to add to their resume, but a long-lasting relationship which truly makes an impact.
4. Give them a meaningful learning experience
Internships provide young professionals with the invaluable opportunity of gaining real-world experience within their industry and the ability to jumpstart their professional careers. However, this is only the case if the internship actually provides some sort of value. Keep in mind that you need your interns as much as they need you and as a result, you’ll need to do your part in ensuring your internship program provides your young recruits with a truly meaningful experience.
Designating your interns as company errand-runners or paper pushers is not the way to go. Your young recruits should be doing much more than making company coffee runs to the local Starbucks or shredding paper. When you force individuals into doing work outside of their skillset, you make them feel undervalued and unappreciated.
While “grunt work” is a necessary evil in any company, your interns deserve more than thankless menial tasks meant to keep them busy and out of the way. Provide them with rich opportunities and on-the-job experience that they can leverage for their future endeavors. Give them the opportunity to work across several departments and expose them to a myriad of roles. Include them in meetings and strategic discussions so they can understand how the business operates from the inside out. They provide your company with a valuable resource to tap into especially in the form of providing useful outside perspectives.
If you truly want to create a stellar internship, the key lies in providing your young recruits with meaningful and satisfying work and helping them develop the skill sets necessary for them to succeed in their future careers.
5. Provide networking opportunities
It’s essential to keep the right perspective when it comes to your internship program. Think of it less as an avenue to find your company’s next CEO and more as an opportunity to give back to the community and create a positive brand identity. Let’s face it, when it comes down to it, it’s safe to say that your young recruits most likely don’t have a Rolodex full of industry contacts at their disposal. We all understand the benefits of fostering and maintaining connections in the industry. It’s an essential element to any professional’s ability to thrive and succeed.
In fact, did you know that an astounding 85 percent of professionals surveyed in one study cited the they found their current jobs through networking? What could be more beneficial to a young burgeoning professional than the prospect of making invaluable industry contacts? Provide them with this in some way, shape or form, whether it be through company get-togethers, access to conferences or industry events or through a valuable mentorship program.
Allowing them to rub elbows with industry professionals can provide an immense impact on their future careers as well as their outlooks, perspectives and ambitions. Furthermore, you’re doing your part by providing them with a truly meaningful internship experience which will help them grow and succeed. In the end, you’re not giving them a leg up in the world, you’re turning them into a grateful and glowing example of an ambassador of your brand.
6. Get feedback on your internship program
When it comes down to it, you can do your best to create an invaluable internship program and experience for your young recruits, but you’ll never truly know how you stack up without feedback. However, don’t just save your feedback questions and surveys at the end of the internship during your exit interview. Take the time to create a process which cultivates feedback throughout the entire internship as well. Doing so will not only aid in your efforts to continually provide an excellent experience for your young recruits but it will also show them that you truly care.
When it comes to creating a killer internship program, the key lies in providing a meaningful and impactful experience which will help set your young recruits off on the right foot for their future endeavors. Use this article as a nifty guide to ensure your internship program truly makes a difference and stands out above the rest.
Have you ever held an internship? What was your experience? What are some additional tactics you feel companies could use to create stellar internship programs? Let us know in the comments below!