It’s clear that internships are the best way to discover and audition new talent. But not all internship programs are equally effective. The design and execution of every program are essential to its success, so these choices should be tailored to your business’s goals. If your focus is to maximize full-time conversions, how do you craft a well-run, thoughtful, and authentic experience for your interns to keep them coming back?
The best internships pair interns’ fresh perspectives with the insight and guidance of seasoned professionals. Here are six essential elements to consider before you bring on your next round of interns:
1. Keep your program selective.
By establishing high standards for your intern candidates, you can have the confidence to trust them with high-impact assignments. Keep your program small and exclusive so it stays manageable. Ideally, you should dedicate a full-time manager to track and oversee your program’s success.
2. Give them meaningful work.
There’s nothing worse to an intern than fetching coffee or idly sitting around for assignments. Your program should provide structured, hands-on projects that affect real operations and business goals. The more accountability you assign your interns, the more effort they’ll put in. That means a higher return for your company’s investment.
3. Make training and development a priority.
The potential for growth is one of the top reasons why interns decide to return as full-time hires. Your company should provide engaging learning experiences to both set your interns up for success during the program and give them a reason to return.If you want to maximize both their experience and their productivity, pair up your interns with mentors at your company. Give them access to senior staff via weekly workshops or networking events. Check in with your interns throughout the program to track their progress and see how they’re doing.
4. Give them frequent and honest feedback.
It all starts with a well-planned orientation session. Introduce your corporate culture and set expectations on their first day (or before!). From there, intern managers and/or mentors should clearly explain the objectives for their performance and provide real-time feedback during scheduled check-ins.
5. Create camaraderie among interns.
It can be isolating for any new hire to relocate and work in a new city or state. Team-building activities, both inside and outside the office, can have a tremendously positive effect on the overall intern experience. A close-knit intern group will ultimately benefit your company by creating a group of interns who are more open to collaboration and feedback.
6. Provide the assistance they need.
Not every company can offer Silicon Valley-level perks to their interns. But no matter your company size, you need to strategically decide how you can best support your interns and keep your program competitive. For example, a growing number of companies are starting to offer tuition assistance for MBA interns. Another major pain point for any relocating new hire is the prospect of finding affordable, short-term housing. Whether it’s fully company paid or subsidized with a stipend, providing housing or housing assistance can be a make-or-break-it factor to your internship’s success.
It’s worth noting that most employer-paid or employer-subsidized housing is considered a taxable benefit, so make sure your company is taking full advantage of this benefit!