More and more companies appear to be interested in the concept of internships but what can you do to ensure that you are maximizing the value of this opportunity both for the individual and the organization? All too often people treat interns as cheap or even free labour but don’t take anything more from them.
Internships really can and should be used to improve your hiring processes. What better way to ensure that those you hire are road tested and the right fit for your organization?
Here are our 3 top tips for ensuring this happens:
1. Clarify your hiring requirements early
Ideally you will anticipate what skills you are looking for in the full time position that you are considering pipelining the intern into. Things of course may change but specific skill requirements and projects you are considering in the future will ensure you are not hiring somebody completely inappropriate.
You should also be ready to offer the intern a full time position as soon as they complete the internship rather than letting them get back into the market after they have had valuable experience with your firm.
Additionally, the more you know about the pipeline position the better you are able to set tasks that will assess their ability to fit your organisation. Using both business as usual work and specific projects can help this. If you have more than one intern, setting projects can allow consistency to compare the interns particularly if you need to make decisions between them.
2. Be Realistic
Although many organisations want to “wow” their interns into thinking that their company really is the employer of choice, what interns are looking for is a realistic learning experience, which allows them to make an informed decision about their future in addition to increasing their personal brand through real work experience. The more genuine their experience, the more likely they will be to stay with the company for longer as their expectations will be met.
Ensure line managers are informed to set them as close to real work as possible so that they also feel like they are making an impact and if it can’t be business critical at least make it something that is valuable to the team. Explaining where their task fits in the wider picture is also powerful to the interns
Remember that the interns going back on to university campuses will be your brand ambassadors if you get things right but equally will share bad experiences too.
3. Ensure they meet everyone they need to on the internship
Last year I was surprised to find out how many interns were brought back after their internship for further interviews - that really should not be necessary and wastes everyone’s time.
Ensuring you know who needs to be involved in the hiring decision and creating opportunities for those people to have exposure to your interns whilst they are working with the organization is the most efficient way of assessing them. This may be in the form of direct work, informal coffee chats or even more formal assessment activities such as interviews or presentations. If you have had 4 weeks + of experience with them you really should not need to bring them back for any more checking…
Taking steps to invest in making your internship programme successful should help your organization to make the most of the opportunity and to ensure that you have the “right” future employees and brand ambassadors.