When planning an internship program, your organization should consider tangible benefits and opportunities for interns to have meaningful experiences. We encourage that all students are paid for participating in an internship, but we understand that this is not realistic for all organizations. 

Teach practical skills that may not typically be covered in a conventional classroom environment. This can include leading discussions on salary negotiation, personal financial management, or learning how to build a personal network. 

Regardless of whether your company has already implemented an internship program, the following set of guidelines can aid in assessing effective strategies and potential pitfalls, ensuring that students remain engaged and committed.

Before the Internship

Job Description and Timelines

  • Write a clear and descriptive overview of the internship program, including time frame, benefits, responsibilities, and expectations.
  • Post the internship opportunities months in advance to ensure enough time to review all of the applications.

Supervision and Team Preparation

  • Training on what it means to supervise an intern. Teach how to provide growth and development
    • Establish key organizational foundations by reflecting on the following questions:
      • Is this a paid or unpaid internship? 
      • If it is unpaid, is it for-credit? 
      • Is the internship in-person, hybrid or virtual? 
  • Establish clear-cut expectations for both interns and intern supervisors. 
    • This includes: reviewing timelines, intern duties, supervisor responsibilities, and guidelines for how interns should be treated in the workplace. 
      • Goal-setting and benchmarks that you would assign entry-level employees will be essential in crafting a successful internship program.
      • Refer to Department of Labor Code of Conduct for Internship Programs
  • Prepare, prepare, prepare
    • Supervisors and team members alike should know what their roles are for ensuring the quality of the internship experience. 
      • The design of the internship program should include participation by leadership, even if it's at a limited capacity:
      • I.e. CEO or CFO alternates at attending weekly check-in every few weeks.

During the Internship

Internship Structure

  • Orientation that includes clear expectations and an outline of the internship. Ice breakers to meet other interns and professionals.
  • Encourage coffee chats with other professionals. (schedule for them if you want!)
  • Ongoing social opportunities! Happy Hours, coffee/tea breaks, day trips. Anything that takes students out of the work environment.
  • Assign a project to each intern that lasts the duration of the experience, including:
    • Weekly check-ins;
    • Formal presentations at the end of the internship to other interns and staff;
    • Communal, team-wide, and/or one-on-one feedback.

Quality & Relevant Work

  • Interns should be assigned meaningful work
    • Tasks that connect to the student's existing knowledge while also supporting your organization’s mission
    • Weekly projects that reflect their major as well as their interests. 
    • Duties that will be reviewed by members of your company, with accompanying feedback so interns can develop self-awareness around strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for growth.
    • Assign projects that expand their skills, allow them to contribute to company initiatives, and feel connected to their team and company.