Advice for Starting an Internship Program
Planning an effective internship program from the very beginning is a good way to ensure a successful experience. A few guidelines are offered below to assist you in your early planning.
Ask yourself some realistic questions
- Can you provide meaningful work assignments?
- Is there a professional staff person to supervise interns?
- Do your top managers and employees want to have interns on-site?
- Can you provide financial support (salary, gas money, supplies, etc.)?
- Do you have sufficient office space?
Create Effective Job Descriptions
The quality of students attracted to your listed positions sometimes depends upon the quality of your announcement. In addition to the position title, hours, salary, and location, describe the duties, qualifications, and application instructions in terms that will attract students. Provide enough detail to identify specific academic disciplines and learning objectives. One-line descriptions are not sufficient. Reference descriptive material such as your website. Contact the Internship Program for additional guidance.
Carefully Select the Site Supervisor
Is their a professional member of your staff who is committed to and capable of developing interns? Does this person have the time to supervise interns? Will he or she effectively represent your organization when reviewing resumes and/or applications and interviewing students? Do not automatically accept interns without conducting interviews.
When an Intern has been selected
Discuss start and end dates with the selected student. Agree on days and times the student will be expected to be on site. Please take time during the first day of work to orient the student. This includes explaining your organization’s mission, structure, and policies. Introduce the intern to co-workers. Make sure the intern is aware of available resources to perform his/her responsibilities. Inform the intern how work performance will be assessed. What deadlines or standards should the intern be aware of? Provide the intern with information regarding work attire. Notify your permanent employees when the intern will be starting and provide them with background information about the projects the intern will be doing. Set up workspace for the intern. Complete the Learning Objectives Agreement offered by the Internship Program during the first 2 weeks of the internship.
During the Course of the Internship
Meet with the intern on a regular basis to provide feedback and ensure Learning Objectives are on track. Provide any necessary training. Periodically evaluate the intern's performance and provide feedback. Confer with the site supervisor for additional insight into intern’s performance. Ask interns to complete the Intern Evaluation Report, available below, regarding his/her experience with your organization. Have the site supervisor complete the Employer Evaluation, available below, of the student intern and return it to our office. Write recommendations, if appropriate. Ask interns to discuss their experience with your organization. Identify improvements to your internship program and make revisions.
If you're unsure precicely what defines an Internship, or are interested in discovering how one might differ from job or volunteer experience, we highly recommend reading the official NACE Position on Internships here.