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An internship program is an investment in your company’s next generation of talent. If set up correctly, it can help you develop young talent and be the starting point of a successful career for the individual. Designing an internship scheme requires effort, creativity, and planning.  

The value of internships for employers and interns 

A well-managed and structured internship program can be a win-win situation. Internships are a great way for employers to get in skills and knowledge they might currently not have, new ideas, next-generation insights, or even bring in fresh perspectives. They can also identify talent that can be offered a permanent role to help the company grow. 

Staffing a company with high-caliber candidates is crucial for business success, but in the current competitive market, it is fast becoming more difficult. Competing for skilled new talent requires creative solutions and an internship scheme is one of them, as it can both enhance the employer brand whilst also creating an international hiring pipeline to connect the organization with global talent. 

The internship period can act as a trial for both employer and intern to see whether they are a good fit for each other. For interns, it can provide solid work experience, industry insights, and useful professional network building. 

How to set up a quality internship scheme?  

To attract high-caliber candidates, internship programs must be well structured and organized. Programs should be engaging and provide the real working world experience. 

Allocate an internships manager 

It is important you have a person in charge of your internship scheme in order to ensure the interns get the most out of their experience. The internship manager/coordinator should establish a scheme that engages, educates, and challenges interns to rise to their full potential. They should develop a structured curriculum utilising various delivery formats such as courses, experimental learning, and educational platforms. 

The appointed person ought to be highly organized to plan for success, track performance, and gather continuous feedback.  

Assign a mentor for each intern 

The ‘mentor’ role is crucial as it designates an individual responsible for the intern’s education and experience. 

An effective mentor-intern relationship should be an avenue for personalized feedback that goes beyond the work they do. The feedback experience should be dynamic, so, perhaps a more junior level staff member would be more suitable when developing a relaxed relationship, where the employee can open up about anything, whilst also promoting professional development. Particularly, if the internship is the candidate’s first corporate experience – they may have questions they are not confident asking senior members of staff. 

When setting up the internship scheme it is essential that the interns’ learning and development opportunities are considered – thus there is the argument that a more senior-level member should be a mentor as well. Shadowing more senior-level staff members can help interns gain a more thorough understanding of these roles and future growth opportunities. 

Create a schedule, set goals, and have regular performance reviews 

Set goals for your interns and determine milestones where you can revisit their progress throughout their project.  

A good performance review with honest critiques is an opportunity for the intern to learn, improve and understand whether they are meeting their employer’s expectations. Their evaluation should include constructive criticism – praising them on their accomplishments and constructive feedback in line with areas that need improving. 

Give interns meaningful work 

Create a purposeful role that is inviting to candidates. Today’s internship market is very competitive, and candidates are looking for real-world experience that will help them build solid experience.  

Interns should be assigned meaningful projects that reflect the work they would do if they joined full-time, and prepare candidates for a seamless transition to a permanent position. A good internship is educational and allows room for career development – interns are engaged, valued, and challenged. 

Furthermore, embed your interns in the company’s culture. Create a sense of community by including them in all meetings and social events. It is useful if all employees are on board by communicating the value proposition of the internship and the value of internships internally to inspire collaboration from all colleagues. A positive internship experience and culture fit will make it more likely that the intern will want to join the company full time. 

Measure success 

It is crucial you have consistent ways to measure success in order to justify an internship scheme’s worth. The metrics will depend on the organization’s goals. An exit interview that gathers feedback on every aspect of the intern’s experience should be a standard part of the scheme.  

Introducing an internship scheme is a strategic decision that can help drive innovation and productivity, enhance your employer brand, and foster new talent for your company. It can take planning and investment but it’s definitely worth it to add value to your organization! 

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