Internship programs play a pivotal role in shaping the workforce of tomorrow, providing students with real-world experience and businesses with fresh talent. On Aug. 9, Aspire hosted a workshop titled “Creating Your Internship Experience in 6 Steps,” where seasoned professionals overseeing internship programs shared their expertise and insights for employers.
The workshop, which took place at Endress + Hauser Customer Center, featured experts Anna Larson, corporate communications director at The Garrett Companies, and Devina Fernandez, workforce development partner at Endress + Hauser.
Some critical lessons taught at the workshop were that great internship programs take time to build from the ground up, and that smaller organizations can benefit from interns as well as large corporations and institutions.
The event, organized by Aspire’s school-to-work specialist Jennifer Hollingshead, catered to a diverse audience, with some attendees already having internship programs in place, but seeking to further improve them.
“You can start small with just one intern and grow your program with time,” said Hollingshead. “Our speakers mentioned that they have built their programs over years and are constantly adding new things, so don’t feel like you have to start with a large cohort.”
Larson and Fernandez reviewed the six steps to crafting a successful internship program:
- Identify Purpose and Goals
- Identify the Intern Role
- Identify the Program Structure
- Determine the Application Process
- Start Recruiting
Larson and Fernandez taught that defining the “why” of hosting an intern is the crucial first step in building a lasting internship program by properly identifying the purpose and objectives ahead of time.
In creating the role for the intern or interns, the speakers noted that the most effective intern programs feature real-world work that contributes to the productivity of the organization. In the way employers look for certain talents and qualities to fill needed roles, employers should do the same when looking for the right fitting position or department that the intern will go into.
Larson and Fernandez emphasized the importance of a structured internship position. No internship is complete without a plan for management, budgeting and logistics. This is where the speakers placed importance on finding the right dedicated program manager, supervisor or mentor for the interns.
Also critical to structuring an internship program is deciding on compensation, hours, wages and benefits. Employers should consider everything from networking and training opportunities to merchandise and fun events and outings.
After developing an effective application process, Larson and Fernandez spoke on the importance of recruitment and implementation. Employers can connect with local job and career fairs, colleges and schools to reach out to potential candidates.
When putting the well-planned internship program into action, Larson and Fernandez added that following the progress of the interns and building on to the program year after year are sure-fire ways to keeping interns as part of employers’ workforce strategies for a long time.
Though the workshop is over, Aspire will continue to share knowledge and resources with employers.
“Any companies are welcome to reach out to me, and I can share the handbook that was created,” said Hollingshead. “It contains best practices and copies of documents used for an internship job posting, evaluation or supervisor as well as the PowerPoint from the workshop.”
The collaborative support of The Garrett Companies and Endress + Hauser further enriched the experience, as they openly shared their successful internship models, and were eager to help other businesses achieve this development milestone.
For further information on how organizations can develop internship programs, contact Aspire’s school-to-work specialist Jennifer Hollingshead at firstname.lastname@example.org or (317) 888-4856, ext. 113.