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Creating a Meaningful Internship

Three young interns sit at a table with notebooks and laptops working on their projects

An internship program is a great way to source potential talent and connect with future employees at the start of their careers. However, hiring interns looks a lot different than it did ten years ago. Interns are looking to gain the most real-world experience that they can apply to their first role as a regular employee. If you’re thinking of hiring interns or developing an internship program, here are some best practices for making the internship more meaningful for both intern and employer.

Provide Interns with Real Assignments

Interns should be innately interested in understanding day-to-day responsibilities and tasks directly related to their major or intended career path. Gone are the days where the interns were hired solely to fill administrative roles, making coffee runs, or filing papers. While administrative tasks are valuable and can still be included, interns should learn about and complete tasks that are challenging, connect them with others in the company, and contributes to the company’s goals, mission, vision, and values. Interns are often eager to put their classroom knowledge to the test in real-life assignments, while also bringing a fresh perspective to problem solving, and can offering valuable insight on specific processes that might need revamping.[1]

Hold an Orientation for All Involved

Orientations ensure that everyone from the intern to the person supervising them has the same expectations and is on the same page. This includes what the intern will be doing, any projects they need to complete, and how they will be measured on the work they’ve completed. This is also a great time to provide more information on the organization, including its mission statement, core values, and overall goals. This is essential information the intern will need to keep in mind as they approach their work.[2]

Help Interns Build Their Network

In addition to learning about the company and their job, interns also want to expand their network. Whether these interns will be employed at your company after graduation, networking with people in their intended industry will help them as they move into the next phases of their careers. Suggest people in the company interns should get to know and make an introduction for them. Setting up lunches with senior leaders for them to engage with and learn from is another great way to help them build on their network and knowledge.[3]

Teach Interns New Skills

Interns and the company can also benefit from interns learning new skills. There may be an area that your intern wants to expand their knowledge on—such as spreadsheets, presentation skills, etc.—and helping them learn and improve these skills will also benefit your company. Helping them develop new skills that can be applied to the work they’re doing and future work will help the intern feel like they are getting the most out of the program and are learning skills they can take outside the internship.3

If you are developing an internship program and want to ensure its success for the interns and your company, Human Capital can help. We offer a full suite of HR solutions to provide your business with all the support you need. Our team can assist you with developing an internship program that is not only compliant but meaningful. Contact Us to learn more about how our HR team can help.

[1] Forbes- Why Your Intern Shouldn’t Make the Coffee: How to Create Meaningful Work

[2] Gardner-Webb- 15 Best Practices for Internship Programs

[3] Forbes- Here Come the Interns: How to Make Your Company Stand Out

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