Creating an Internship Program That Creates Value for Your Organization


The first thing this term probably brings to mind is having someone to grab you a cup of coffee or file paperwork.

You probably don’t think of internship programs as having a tremendous amount of value to add to your organization, but that fault may lie less on your interns and more on your company and your internship program, or lack of a defined program.


The Value of Internships

We know why internships are valuable for the interns—even if they’re not gaining valuable real-world experience as they expressed wanting to do in their interview, they still have something great to add to a resume once they leave college or begin looking for fulltime work.

With that being said, do you similarly understand the value a great internship program can hold for your company beyond the fact it leads to free or low-cost labor?

Here’s just a few ways you can see an internship program as valuable for everyone involved, and in particular, your organization:

  • One of the number one benefits of having interns in your workplace is the fact they bring a fresh perspective to the table. For so many organizations, even very successful ones, it can be easy to become stuck in a rut or become unable to have any perspective outside of a certain box. Bringing in a new perspective can help you remain innovative and competitive in ways you might not have even originally considered.
  • Interns are often on the cusp of new technology and trends in general. Your business may be lacking when it comes to digital or social media-based marketing, or you may need to know where younger consumers’ focus is and interns can help you address these issues in new and creative ways. In fact, you can utilize your interns to become somewhat of an in-house marketing or social media team, which may be something you wouldn’t otherwise have the resources to be able to do.
  • When you bring interns on board, you may find outstanding full-time employees for the future. You can save time and efforts recruiting for positions in the future if you’re able to put in place a robust internship program.
  • Having a well-established internship program can be a great way to improve your employer brand. When you have the image that you’re willing to invest in fostering the talent and career ambitions of young people, employees are more likely to see your company in a positive light.

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Building an Internship Program That Brings Value

If you want to realize the above benefits of interns in your organization and increase the value of these young people even further, it’s important to focus on how you structure your program.

  • One of the biggest points of focus with a good internship program relies on the selection process. It should be kept incredibly selective and you should have a set of skills and requirements in place for your candidates. This will ensure you’re more likely to have interns who are going to bring value and that will also have the most potential to become a full-time employee later on.
  • Your interns should be clear on their role within your company and on expectations. The best internship programs are the ones that are well-managed and clearly defined. If you just use an intern on a random basis whenever you need an errand done or a menial task there’s little value that’s going to be derived by anyone involved. Just as with other job roles within your company, defining the expectations and the characteristics of an intern’s job will help everyone thrive through the program.
  • Don’t be afraid to challenge your interns. It’s demonstrated time and time again that the more challenging assignments, the more responsibility and the more accountability required of an intern, the more successfully they perform.
  • Develop and implement standards for feedback and assessment. This is important to interns—that’s why they’re there—to learn and get experiences that will help them become more successful in the future. Don’t just send them on their own with no guidance. If you do plan to try and do internal hiring based on your internships this is particularly important because it really becomes part of a larger training and development process within your company.

Internship programs can become a pivotal and important part of your talent management strategy. They’re not just about hiring the college-aged son or daughter of a friend and having them hang around the office—they can actually become a key part of your organization, help you remain competitive and innovative and also potentially become part of your talent mapping and succession planning.

Continue reading our next post, to discover tips that will help you hire and manage your interns.

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October 15, 2014   Updated :February 4, 2016   employee engagement, interns, internships, recruiting, recruitment   

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