Internship Program Tips

During the Summer of ’17 my company provided a Summer Internship Program and I became heavily involved in it – and I’m as convinced as ever that it’s a powerful opportunity for the student as well as for the company. We’ve said goodbye to our Interns for this year and wished them well – yet I’m amazed at the positive experience it was for them… and us.

I’ve had Interns in my former life as a youth minister, as a matter of fact, it was serving as an Intern that started me on that path years ago.  However, managing an Internship for a business, since I have moved to Project Management, made me wonder how it would go. In addition to “hire the right people” which thankfully, we did – there are a couple of things we got right, I think – that helped us have a successful program. Nothing like this is perfect, but these things stand out to me as helpful.

Plan Ahead

As the Project Manager, I touch most of the departments in our company. So long before the Interns arrived, I called a meeting with members of each department that I work with, to explore how the Interns might help them, and how they might help the Interns. We figured out that not only could we keep them busy with the backlog of things we can’t seem to get to but we could make them a part of each team.

Include

A big piece of our Internship Program was to keep our Summer folks busy – and that we did. There’s always a need for catching up on a number of processes. However, we strove to also include the Interns in our team meetings, and seek their input – and it was helpful information. Our Interns left not only having contributed to tasks, but participating in active discussions.

Guide to Lead

We included our Interns on actual project work and had them lead and present. Each Intern was able to make a short Project Update presentation at our Department Head Meeting. They stepped up to the challenge. To help them, I previewed their presentation with them to make sure it wasn’t all “new”. This was very well received all the way around.

Mentor

Toward the end of each day, I met with the Interns briefly to talk about their day. Sounds like too much work? Not a chance, it was enlightening for me, and I think for them. I was able to answer questions, explain the business models, and receive helpful feedback from them.

I’m a strong believer that an Internship Program is some of the best money spent for a host of reasons.  If given this opportunity again, I’ll jump on it. It was a value add to our company, staff, and to our Interns.

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