Design an internship program that meets your needs

As varied as organizations are in age, size, industry and product, so too are their internship activities. How do you know what kind of internship will work best for you?

Set goals & write a plan

  • What does your organization hope to achieve from having an intern?
  • Are you a small organization searching for additional help on a project?
  • Is your organization growing quickly and having difficulty finding motivated new employees?
  • Are you a nonprofit that doesn’t have a lot of money to pay, but can provide an interesting and rewarding experience?
  • Is your organization seeking new employees with management potential?

A careful discussion with management can create a consensus on program goals that can be understood by all involved. The internship can be designed to best meet those expectations. As many staffing professionals know, in order for an internship to be successful, it will require the commitment of management.

Carefully plan and write out your internship program and goals.   

Managers, mentors, interns and university career centers are all going to be reading what you write about the internship.  Draft a job description that clearly explains the job’s duties. Do you want someone for a specific project? What about general support around the workplace? How about giving the intern a taste of everything your company does? Structure the internship ahead of time so that you can be sure to meet your goals and not find yourself floundering partway through.

Things to think about include:

  • Will you pay the intern?  Wages vary widely from field to field; be sure yours are competitive.
  • Where will you put the intern? Do you have adequate workspace for them?
  • What sort of academic background and experience do you want in an intern? Decide on standards for quality beforehand — it’ll help you narrow down the choices and find the best candidates.
  • Who will have the primary responsibility for the intern? Will that person be a mentor or merely a supervisor?
  • What will the intern be doing? Be as specific as possible. Interns, like others in the process of learning, need structure so they don’t become lost, confused or bored.
  • Do you want to plan a program beyond the work you give your interns? Will there be special training programs, performance reviews, lunches with executives, social events?   Keep in mind that your interns are walking advertisements for your company. If they have a good experience working for you, they’re likely to tell their friends — word gets around. 
  • Will the intern be able to work 80+ hours for 8+ weeks?

These are just some of the questions to consider. Your organization’s approach will depend on your specific  resources and needs.  We are  happy to provide assistance in this process. 

*Adapted from “Starting An Internship Program – 7th Edition”, Michael True – Messiah College

Below you will find additional information to assist you in your hiring process:

Dickinson Interns Benefit Organizations
Must an Intern be Paid?
How to Become a Competitive Site & Establish Visibility on Campus
Process for Hiring Interns