what is an internship?
An internship is any carefully monitored work or service experience in which a student has intentional learning goals and reflects actively on what she or he is learning throughout the experience. Although internships vary widely from organization to organization, some common characteristics include the following. An internship:
- Is a time-limited experience that usually lasts about three months and occurs during the fall, spring or summer semesters.
- Is generally a one-time experience.
- May be part-time or full-time.
- May be paid or non-paid.
- May be part of an educational program and carefully monitored and evaluated for academic credit.
- May be part of a learning plan that someone develops individually.
- Is different from a short-term job or volunteer work and has an intentional “learning agenda” in a structured work environment.
- Includes learning objectives, observation, reflection, evaluation and assessment.
- Has an existing employee working in the department/position to mentor and supervise the interns.
- Seeks to establish a reasonable balance between the intern’s learning goals and the specific work tasks of an organization.
- Promotes academic, career and/or personal development.
- Utilize inexpensive, yet good quality short-term employees.
- Take advantage of extra personnel to start that “future projects” list today.
- Benefit from academic expertise and enthusiasm of college students.
- A year round source of highly motivated pre-professionals.
- A proven, cost-effective way to recruit and evaluate potential employees.
- Promote a positive image for your organization on campus by providing great internship experiences.
- Provide specialized experience for students in the field, enabling them to develop professional skills and work ethics.
- Introduce students to career options in Indiana which may entice them to live and work in the state after graduation.
- The opportunity to have new perspectives on various processes, procedures, and programs.
- The freedom for professional staff to pursue other important projects and tasks.
For an employer, an internship brings fresh ideas and talent, exposure to technology, and additional skill sets to your workplace. According to one Indianapolis employer, “College interns are our best pipeline for hiring new employees. We get to know them, they get to know us, and together we develop a win-win relationship. I hire as many of them as I can.”
The key is to think of the intern as an investment rather than an expense. It’s an investment in human resources, an investment that will hopefully not only provide a quality full-time employee to your firm, but one that will not cost as much to hire.