writing an internship program plan
Carefully plan and write out your internship program and goals. The internship program and goals will be measured by your company’s management team and others in your organization. Structuring the internship ahead of time will provide you with tangible goals and objectives that will enable you to prove to your organization’s decision-makers the importance and value of a well-developed internship program.
In creating your internship program plan, include specific ideas, proposals, and logistical information. Construct your plan based on your organization’s needs and resources. The questions that follow many assist you in formulating an internship program and plan.
Do you want someone for a specific project? If so, what are the tasks and objectives of the project? What are the deadlines for completing the tasks and objectives?
What about general support around the workplace? Does your company need an intern to perform administrative and support functions including data entry, answering telephones, filing, etc.? If so, approximately what percentage of the intern’s time will be spent on these activities?
Do you want to give the intern a taste of everything your company does? How will cross-training be structured into the intern’s schedule? How much time will need to be devoted to each department/area? Have employees from each department been designated to mentor the intern on their particular department functions?
Will you pay the intern? If so, how much? Wages vary widely from field to field, so be sure yours are competitive or offer competitive incentives.
Where will you put the intern? Do you have adequate workspace for them? Will you help make parking arrangements, living arrangements, etc.?
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? The assignment of mentor who will work closely with the intern can be essential in creating a successful experience for the organization and then intern. Ideally, the mentor should be someone from the department where the intern is working and who is very familiar with the projects and tasks the intern is working on. This person doesn’t have to be a teacher per se, but should be selected because he or she likes to teach or train and has the resources to do it. If the person you select has never mentored an intern before, providing basic supervision and mentoring guidelines and training may enhance the experience for both the mentor and the intern.
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 specific training programs, performance reviews, lunches with executives or 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. A bad internship, by contrast, can only hurt your chances of attracting good students for next year.