What I have enjoyed most in my career is developing intern programs that have a clear impact on the company, the community, the leadership, and the interns. It can be one of the most rewarding experiences to see it unfold and the energy it can create!
Think about it for a minute: if you have new managers that can take on an intern, they have a chance to sharpen and develop their leadership skills. If you have a leader that has been in their role, an intern can provide them the rewarding experience of sharing their knowledge and mentoring them! Plus, the intern can bring new ideas, experiences, and perspectives that the manager and the team can learn from. Interns have this wonderful fresh curiosity and positive energy that can ignite a spark in your existing workforce. They can impact your culture.
Here is how to create a great program: Make it a big deal!
- Facilitate a welcome session with the managers and their interns: Build community
- Go beyond the job/project:
- Have managers include interns in meetings, tours, other department meetings
- Set up clear expectations for the manager and intern to establish goals
- Have other leaders meet with the interns
- Set up a company overview where other departments showcase what they do.
- Maybe the intern will find a new career path that sparks their interest.
- Help close skill gaps in the following areas to help interns assimilate quickly (Auxin Group has great development sessions)
- Professional Etiquette
- Presentation Skills
- Effective Communication
- Partner with community outreach and have interns lead a project while also getting other employees involved
- Share professional networks and organizations to support their development
- Hold a showcase day/lunch/breakfast to conclude their internship
- Invite other managers
- Have interns present what they have accomplished
- Provide them with performance feedback just as you would any other employee!
Yes, it is an investment of both time and money. Yes, an intern may leave and not be interested in a full-time role. However, you must shift the lens. If done right, you are developing your workforce, increasing internal engagement, and making an impact on a young professional’s development. Regardless of where they go next, you have made an impact that will shape their future! Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?!