Establishing a Successful Internship Program

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It’s the end of March and you know what that means: thousands of college students are looking for summer internships!!!

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If your Los Angeles- or Orange County-area company doesn’t already have an internship program, why not? Whether paid or un-paid (the student receives no monetary compensation but does receive college credit for her work with you), internships greatly benefit both the student and the employer: the student gets some real-world experience (that could lead to a real-world paying job) and the employer gets to have a top-notch student in his office, eager to work and learn – and possibly work after the internship! In other words, starting an internship program at your business can be a terrific recruiting tool.

March and April are Prime Time for Students to Seek out Summer Internships: How to Start One

If you’ve never had an internship program before, take a look below; we’ve put together an eight-step process for you to follow (and make your own, depending on your firm’s specific needs). Take a look below:

  1. Talk to a few local colleges.

If you’ve never hosted interns before, you’ll have a lot of questions that need answering. You’ll need to speak with college career offices to see what requirements they have as to what is acceptable in an internship (hiring someone just to get you coffee and run errands usually is not considered an internship). After all, the college wants its students to learn something during the students’ time with you. The college may ask you to outline what its students will learn and how you will ensure they learn it.

  1. Decide how many interns you can handle and where they will work.

Not every department in every company can host interns. Departments which typically host interns include marketing, human resources, accounting/finance, and even operations. Talk to department heads to see how many they may want/can handle before promoting internships.

  1. Decide if the internship will be paid or un-paid.

Don’t be worried if you cannot pay your interns. So long as they receive college credit, you will have students applying for your opportunity.

  1. Design the program.

A good internship structure will have learning objectives, daily responsibilities, both short- and long-term projects, evaluation procedures, written expectations, orientation, and an off-boarding process.

  1. Evaluate and decide on the skills, educational background, etc. you feel your interns will need.

For example, if you’re opening up a marketing internship, you will want a student with at least one or more classes in marketing, public relations/communications.

  1. Post the position.

You’ll want to post it with the many colleges and universities in Southern California. (You may decide to post only with a few, or with all; you can even post the opportunity at nationwide internship-posting sites.)

  1. Interview, check references and hire.

Practically every student you interview will have some sort of job history: it’s important that you check to make sure they have a good work ethic, no criminal background, and so on. Even if your firm’s HR department is in charge of the program, make sure the intern’s direct supervisor has a big say in choosing the final candidate.

If you’d like to hire your intern, but are still a tad uncertain if you want to bring her onboard permanently, Helpmates can put her on our payroll until if/when you decide to transfer her to your own.

Want to learn more? Contact the Helpmates office nearest you today.

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