How To Start An Internship Program And Hire Worthwhile Interns


If you work in a field that’s interesting to young students or those who have recently graduated, you both may benefit from your offering an internship program. An internship is nothing more than knowingly taking someone into your organization who doesn’t have all the knowledge and experience to thrive. But this is the genius behind the internship — these people gain the skills to not only become a productive member of your industry, but to your specific company as well. It’s no small wonder why many people are able to turn their internships into full-time jobs.

If you’re up for the idea of welcoming in the younger, lesser-skilled crowd with the intent of training them into efficiency machines at your office, here are a few things you need to consider.

Will you pay your interns? If not in cash, can they earn school credit? Many internships are unpaid, and it’s quite up to you to determine how your interns will be compensated (sometimes free snacks are more than enough). If you work in a high-interest industry, know that you can get away with offering less in exchange for your intern’s efforts. But you should also know that a quality internship program with good pay and perks will also attract more quality interns.

They don’t need to earn a full-time living at all, but be sure you’re not taking advantage.

Where will you find them? Put the call out among your employees first. Let them know that your office is seeking a few interns to learn the ropes. Make sure that any compensation is clearly explained, and the word will slowly get out naturally. They have friends and friends of friends who might make great candidates.

To accelerate this effort, be sure to liaison with nearby colleges and trade schools. These places are packed to the gills with soon-to-graduate students eager to get a leg up and join the workforce. They also very likely has a specific person whose full-time job is to help these students find quality internships. Nearby schools are a must-have contact for finding interns.

There are of course a number of sites that can expand your range of applicants even farther, like InternQueen and Intern Match.

Will you have worthwhile things for them to do? Odds are that your interns will take on a lot of grunt work, those less-desirable tasks that still need to be done to facilitate the rest of the work. There are errands to run, photocopies to be made, phone calls to make. Tasks like these are an intern’s bread and butter: low-risk work that gives them experience, and low-demand work that leaves you free to focus on what’s actually important.

If you have an HR department, they should be one of your go-tos for designing an internship program. They can help you outline specific responsibilities, come up with projects, and generally help you make sure that all parties involved are getting the most out of the experience.

Get busy! It’ll only be a matter of time before you hire the intern(s) into your office. Make sure to show them that you’re not wasting their time by giving them lots of good feedback and generally making yourself available to them on a reasonable basis. After all, they’re young and new, wanting to hear your opinions on your industry and how things should be done. The best interns will keep asking questions that demonstrate their interest. 

Will all these steps in place, it should be no problem to launch a hugely successful internship program that very well may become your go-to hiring pool when it comes time to onboard new talent.