How to Best Utilize Internships for Your Company

Workforce Planning Board

When people think of internships, they generally focus on all the benefits that the intern gains. Leadership skills, industry knowledge, and a base network are all great benefits for the intern. But what about all the great things that an intern can offer your company in return? Here are some tips on how to best utilize internships for your company.

Place Them Strategically

Do a survey within your company to find out which departments find interns to be useful and which ones think of interns as more of an annoyance. There’s no point in hiring interns to serve a department that would prefer they weren’t there in the first place.
Hiring interns into full-time positions saves valuable companies valuable time and money on training, which is why departments that are going to be hiring full-time employees in the near future (within the next 6-12 months) are great places to put interns. The people working in the departments can vet the interns to determine if they would make a good fit for full-time employment

Clear Chain of Command

Assign a junior employee as Intern Manager so that all interns have one primary point of contact. This keeps the interns from taking up time with senior employees. In addition, it gives a junior employee a chance to gain leadership and management skills that can help him/her move into a higher level of management.
The intern manager should greet each intern on his/her first day and make a point to introduce the intern(s) to employees. On the first day, the intern manager should clearly specify the goals the company has in place for the intern along with clear expectations regarding scheduling and company policies. The intern manager should also coordinate the intern’s schedule with the manager s/he will be primarily working with.
The intern manager will need some time in his/her schedule to meet with interns on a weekly basis to touch base, answer questions, and overall monitor their performance. Make sure you allow the new intern manager this type of flexibility and availability.
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Fill in the Summer Gaps

Summer is the most common time for companies to take on interns, and it happens to also be the most common time for employees to take vacations. Take advantage of this overlap by assigning interns to fill in for departments that will be short members throughout the summer. Depending on the company, it might make sense for you to move interns around from department to department to fill in for absent employees. Even if the interns are only able to fulfill some basic tasks such as correspondence and scheduling, this method will free up your employees and give your interns a chance to get to know the company from the perspective of several departments.

Use Senior Interns to Train New Interns

What better way to let your interns progress in their internship than by giving them some leadership experience? Give your senior interns the responsibility of training new interns on the company’s computer system, office layout, and overall office expectations. This gives senior interns some leadership experience and will make the transition easier for new interns who are more likely to feel comfortable around other interns. It also takes a load off of your employees who can better utilize their time.

Reward Unpaid Interns

Many internships are unpaid, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t offer some type of token for your appreciation. A gift certificate or even a nice farewell lunch can show your interns that you appreciate their hard work. Make sure your interns leave with your business card so they can contact you for a reference. If they were happy with their overall experience, they also can share your card with other students who are seeking internships.
Interns can be an asset for your company, as long as they are put to work efficiently and strategically. Use these tips to make the summer internship experience as rewarding for your company as it is for your interns.
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