How To Create and Manage an Internship Program for Your Company

creating an intern strategyThere’s no greater satisfaction in the world than to be able to teach others successfully. Having an internship program at your company can help you learn the ABC’s of management, provide you with knowledge on how to use your time wisely and allow you to make the most of your projects.

With that said, creating an internship program is not easy, especially when you have limited resources. The best way to guarantee a job well done is by creating a detailed plan that is both easy to follow and achievable.

I’m going to guide you step by step on how to establish an Internship program for your company on a tight schedule.

Let’s begin…

Step #1

You should start by outlining the forms you are going to need to fill out.

The most important form is the one that explains what your internship is about. This form can later be used to pitch your internship to different schools, job boards and public entities.

Your internship details form should be well thought out and easy to follow.  Look at this form as your internship’s blue print.

Here’s a template of what it should look like. Be sure to fill out all of these categories in depth. The more detail you give about your internship, the better the response you are going to receive.

setting up an internship program for your team

 best way to create an internship program

 The second form you should create is the actual internship application form that will most likely be on your website, and distributed to schools for students to apply.  When you promote your internship, you will probably be asked to provide these two forms.

Here’s what it looks like…

managing an internship program

Step #2

After you’ve completed both forms, it’s time to craft an internship agenda. My recommendation is to craft two different agendas; one agenda for internal use and the other one for intern use.

Let’s start with the agenda for internal use. In this section, you should include details on your outreach and interview processes. This outline will mainly list the steps you should follow when hiring and managing interns.

Use this template to help you…

Internship Program Agenda (Internal Use)

1.    Promote Internship (You may do so by reaching out to schools and providing them with the first and second forms you made earlier in this article about your internship)

2.    Review intern applications

Consider:

  •     Resume
  •     Online Reputation (Social Media profiles, published work and community involvement)
  •     Work experience in the field or similar field
  •     Educational degree
  •     Availability

3.    Initial phone call outreach to chosen candidates

Consider:

  •     Flexibility of intern schedule
  •     Level of interest in the internship (i.e. tone of voice, enthusiasm and willingness to start)
  •     Communication (i.e speaking skills)

4.    Set interview times with chosen candidates

Consider:

  •    First impression (i.e. dress code, politeness, timeliness, public speaking skills, etc.)
  •     Job knowledge
  •     Learning ability
  •     Basic skills (i.e. writing, math, reading and computer skills. I would recommend administering a small test to assess these.)
  •     Personal experiences (i.e. ask you interviewee what his/her personal experiences have been in the work force as well as in school).
  •     Group interaction (i.e. have your interviewee interact with others in the room to assess his/her ability to communicate in a group setting)

5.    Assess all interviewed prospects and choose your interns

6.    Call back approved prospects and set a start date

Consider:

  •    Have all chosen interns start the same day for an Internship Orientation.

7.    Set a start date for Internship Orientation

Consider:

  •    All interns should start the same day

8.    During the Internship Orientation

Consider:

  •     Set-up a breakfast/lunch for new interns (this way they get to meet the team and each other in an informal setting)
  •     Asking Interns to share a small bio of themselves to the team. Introduce your team as well.
  •     Assign interns to their respective department (i.e. a Copywriting Intern should be introduced and paired with the head of the department)
  •     Introducing interns to the internship syllabus (We will be creating this syllabus later in this section)
  •     Providing interns with a company manual (This company manual should contain information on various tasks the intern will be asked to perform and how to do them. Look at this as a form of class textbook.)
  •     Have interns explore the company manual for a whole day and ask questions if they have any.

9.    Start Internship

Consider:

  •    Spending the first 30 minutes of the day explaining to interns the projects that they will work on that day.
  •     Set-up a date (daily) where interns can report on their work (Preferably in the afternoon after their tasks have been completed)
  •     Allow Interns to ask you questions throughout the day (At first, they will have many!)
  •     Explain all tasks interns have a hard time with in detail (It’s better to spend a significant amount of time doing so initially than having an intern ask several times a day)
  •     Allow interns to gain real job experience by having them help you on advanced projects under your supervision
  •     Have interns team up and help each other fulfill their tasks
  •     Communicate with your intern on a regular basis. (Tip: Having interns is almost like having a child. You have to guide them and supervise them until they are well equipped to work on their own. With that said, your company should be ready to accept interns once it has a detailed program and an organized strategy established. Otherwise, it’ll be a recipe for disaster.)

10.    Monthly Internship Assessments

Consider:

  •    Creating a survey for interns to fill out (i.e. ask them these questions: What have you learned? How challenging is this internship for you? Would you recommend it to a friend? What could we    improve on? What do you like about it?, etc.)
  •   Address all issues and improve your internship with the feedback given.

11.    Intern Progress Report

Consider:

  •     It’s a good idea to provide your interns with progress reports on a bi-monthly basis. This will help them improve their performance by allowing you to acknowledge their weak areas on a positive note.

12.    Show gratitude

Consider:

  •     Taking your interns out to lunch or simply doing something nice for them (Being an intern is often hard. It usually requires a person to juggle school, work, your program and their personal life. Showing gratitude will not only make your intern perform better, but it will also help you form and maintain relationships that can benefit you in the future)

13.     Get feedback

Consider:

  •     Asking your interns what they thought about the program.
  •     Have them write recommendations on your LinkedIn page or website (Being able to effectively teach others is a great advantage)
  •     Offer to write recommendations for those interns who’ve excelled.

14.    Report

Consider

  •     Reporting intern’s progress to their respective University/Job.
  •     Form relationships with universities who can provide you with interns on a consistent basis.

Step #3

The final step is to create an actual agenda for interns. I like to think of this agenda as a class syllabus that interns can refer back to when they have a question about what to expect over the course of the internship.

In this agenda you should outline the following:

Internship Program Agenda (Intern Use)

1.    Take Home Manual Review

Consider

  •    It’s a good idea to provide your interns with a company manual that outlines projects and tasks they will be working on.
  •    They should review this manual at home before starting the actual internship.
  •    Provide this manual during the Internship Orientation.

2.    Start Date

Consider

  •    Asking students to bring back the manual with any questions they may have

3.    Week 1

Consider

  •    Outlining Intern tasks per week. This will give them enough time to get familiarized with projects.
  •     i.e. Introduction to Social Media
  •     Revamp all your Social Media profiles by following tips on these articles…

4.    Assessment 1

Consider

  •     Creating a set of assessments for Interns that will provide you with insight on their learning abilities.

5.    Meetings

Consider

  •     Setting up weekly meetings with interns where you discuss company concepts, issues, problem solving techniques and new ideas.

You may always add fields to this outline. It’s most important function is to allow you to measure your intern’s productivity and your ability to manage them. Don’t forget to always ask for feedback. Effective communication is one of the most important traits you’ll have to develop and employ.

If you have questions about how to create your internship program, contact me through Twitter @Luciasastre1 and I’ll be happy to help!

Happy interning!