Does this sound familiar?

“Uh… yeah, I… would love to have an internship program to grow our company! Wait, do we offer internships? Do we pay our interns?”.

Don’t worry, we’re not judging! Most companies love the idea of having an internship program, but they never take the step past the initial “that’s a great idea” statement to get it started. And here at P1 Learning, we understand why creating an internship program that is both enticing to new talent and simple for your existing team members to implement can be tricky and overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. So, allow us to break it down.

Portrait of a happy female student using laptop computer in university

Here are five elementary tips we hope can help you become the premier internship spot in your market

  1. Develop an internship plan with your team. Determine who will be in charge of this intern (perhaps it’s several members on your team). What are the goals the company would like the intern to achieve? How many days a week would it be good to have an intern and still give you the time you need to complete your individual goals for the company? Do you really need them there Monday through Friday? If it’s sales related internship, perhaps Tuesday through Thursday is a better fit. You need to make sure that you are giving the intern measurable tasks that help them learn and grow, not just busywork that anyone can do. The days of an intern fetching your morning cup of coffee are long gone (and why was that a thing!?).
  2. Start connecting with your community.  Reach out to your local colleges and place ads on their career boards. Take a step further and create a relationship with a professor from that college. Professors can be hard to get that first contact with, but once you have a relationship with them, they will do what they can to connect you to the right students for your company. To help establish these initial discussions, think about attending a college career fair.
  3. Put together a marketing strategy to attract your talent. One of the biggest frustrations an intern can have is miscommunication. They want to know what they will be doing during the internship. Make sure what you market the job to be is what they will be doing. Don’t bait and switch them into the situation. These could be potential employees down the line, so you don’t want to start them off on the wrong foot.
  4. Make sure you are checking in with them. Take the time each week to schedule a 30 minute meeting with your interns to go over what they are doing and what they are learning. Listen to their feedback on your programs as they can offer you new insight on projects. We know from experience how great listening to a new perspective can be for an organization. You may love what they’re saying, or you may not. In either scenario, take this as constructive criticism. 
  5. Establish your interns as ambassadors for future talent.  People love working for companies that receive great recognition. Your intern is the best new marketing tool you have out there. They can relay all the experience they have learned not only to their classmates but to their friends and family as well. Getting the word out that you are a great company to work for will help you in your recruitment and retention efforts for years to come. Plus, if you end up hiring your intern to a full-time position, have them oversee the next internship program.

Keep in mind that this process may take a few rounds before you master what your internship program will look like. Each student you bring in will bring in new ideas, challenges, and insights. Each of which will help you shape your program to be the premier internship site in your area. The only way that will happen is by doing, so get a team together in your organization and start putting together the framework for your program today. After all, we can all use a little extra help, right!?

To learn more on how to structure an internship program at your company, check out courses such as Managing Interns, Turning an Internship Into Full-time, and our series focused on Mentorship. Once you have an intern as a part of your team, have them log in and watch the course, Internship Best Practices along with several other courses offered by P1 Learning. Not a P1 Learning subscriber? Register for a 7-day demo.