Interns are great. They bring enthusiasm and a fresh perspective to your team, and in my experience, they have always been willing to jump right in where needed and work hard. A well-structured internship program can be a great asset for a company. But it only works well when both parties, the company and the intern, feel they are benefitting from the arrangement.
Here are some ways to hire and retain quality interns!
- Recruit! Use social media (both business and personal profiles) and your website to let people know your company is offering great internship opportunities. Check out services like Intern in Michigan, which is a matching service for companies seeking interns, and people seeking internships. Make and nurture connections at universities in your area, particularly with people in departments relative to your industry.
- Interview thoroughly! Intern candidates should go through the same interview and onboarding process as any other employee. When reviewing candidates, consider both immediate and future team needs. Is there potential to “grow” an internship into a permanent position? My internship at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center led to my managing one of the largest art festivals in Michigan for four years right out of college – it does happen.
- Have a plan! The definition of Intern is not “S/he who does the grunt work.” We all have a certain level of grunt work in our day, but a successful internship includes a scope of work for the intern (agreed upon by both parties), structured manager “check-ins” throughout the internship to make sure the scope is being honored, and an exit process to review the experience.
- Get creative! Consider what other opportunities (aside from standard expectations) can be offered to make an internship a well-rounded experience:
- Exposure to an area of interest “outside the scope”
- Networking opportunities
- Attendance to a special event related to your industry
- A turn or two (or more!) on your company’s blog or podcast
If you are seeking an internship, look for companies that offer some of the above. Make sure that your resume, LinkedIn profile, and portfolio (if you have one) are current and consistent. Have a clear idea of the experience you want, and seek opportunities that match that vision. Request a scope of work and periodic reviews throughout your internship. A good company will appreciate your professional approach.
How do you find great interns? Share your ideas in the comments!