June 22, 2021

How Interns Can Fuel Company Success


You want to build out your team and you need to be creative doing so during this tight job market. We recently discussed how you can achieve this through the use of freelance and consultant talent. Another creative approach to adding talent is through internships.

Companies that hire a lot of people right out of school (college, graduate programs, etc.) realize that the best time to identify new workers is early on. With internships, you get the talent into your office to see what they can do, and then you have them teed-up to start after they graduate.

The key is building a structured internship program to ensure that your efforts actually work.

And this isn’t merely about keeping interns busy: the average employee retention rate is 20 percent higher for someone who has interned at a company and returns than for an employee who did not intern, and so building a structured internship program is also part of taking a holistic approach to building your culture.

With this in mind, we interviewed Elise Gelwicks, a friend of Hirewell’s, and Founder of InternView, about how to craft a meaningful, effective internship.

How to Structure an Internship Program

A number of elements work together to create a successful, structured internship program:

  1. Interns take ownership over a longer-term project with a set number of weeks to finish it.
  2. They hit deadlines and milestones along the way, and work with mentors to break down large projects into manageable chunks.
  3. The intern is integrated into the day-to-day work of the office, including supplemental tasks.
  4. Interns have enough work to stay busy.

How to Provide Constant Feedback in an Internship Program

Fresh-out-of-school interns are accustomed to receiving grades. Work, however, isn’t like that. But they still need the opportunity to receive structured feedback. Gelwicks recommends:

  1. Managers check-in weekly with feedback.
  2. Include a form or report that enables the intern to share what they’ve been doing.
  3. Feedback needs to be grounded and constructive, and the intern needs to feel comfortable.
  4. Provide opportunities to network throughout the organization.
  5. Be transparent about next steps and whether there is a chance that the internship can lead to a job. (Make this part of the feedback loop.)

Final Thoughts

You have work to do. And you want someone who will roll up their sleeves and do it.
This is where interns can thrive.

But interns need to feel valued. They’re an important part of the team.

And so, when you design a structured internship program, provide consistent feedback, mentors and networking opportunities, as well as payment. Show your interns just how valued they are.

Hirewell is Your Partner in Understanding How Best to Build a Structured Internship Program

As we like to say, you don’t always know what you don’t know, but in this case, we do know what we don’t know. We consider ourselves experts in all things talent acquisition, however intern programs are a bit outside of our wheelhouse. So, while we’ve utilized them first hand and are strong believers in this strategy, if your company is interested in developing your own program, we highly recommend getting in touch with Elise.

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