How to Structure an Internship Program

BY Jamie Aspin |
11/08/21

Hosting an intern is an incredibly rewarding experience for everyone involved. It can be even more rewarding with a well thought out internship program that is repeatable and predictable. A well-crafted program will lessen the workload for you and your team, and give your intern the framework within which to learn and thrive during their time with you.

Here are some ideas for you as to how to create your own internship program.

1. Make it measurable

Have a start and an end point – this helps you to see where the intern is now and will enable you to see how far he or she has come when you carry out your review at the end of the program. You can do this using a simple 1 to 10 sliding score (1 being low, 10 being high); for example: How confident are you using Excel software? How confident are you presenting to a team? How strong are your project management skills?

2. Have regular reviews

Fix regular review sessions to help both you and your intern stay on track with their targets. Why not ask your intern to keep a daily journal? It can help them to consolidate learnings, form the basis for your review sessions and help your intern to present their ideas at the end of their internship (more on this later).

3. Brainstorm ideas

If this is your first time creating an internship program, write down as many things you can think of that would be a beneficial experience for an intern. You can use these ideas to create the framework of your program.

Include meeting and greeting your team, legal paperwork (finance, legal), onboarding, software knowledge/learning, project experience, exposure to different teams within your company, networking, work events, seminars, getting involved on specific projects you have etc. You don’t have the use all of your ideas but it’s a great place to start and you can also ask other members in your team for their ideas too.

4. Create the framework of your internship program

Having collated your initial ideas for the internship structure, the next step is to put them into an order that flows nicely. Do this by matching your brainstorming ideas within the internship time frame. It may help you to think of the internship in separate blocks of time e.g. 2 x 6 weeks, 4 x 3 weeks, 12 x 1 week.

Depending on your needs and projects, some of our host companies prefer to organise their internship program down to the hour whereas others find it more beneficial to have a looser plan which allows room for more flexibility. Accounting departments generally have more predictable workloads that allow for very precise scheduling whereas our engineering host companies have more unpredictable project based work, for example.

5. Consider your company as a whole

For many graduates this will be their first experience in a work environment. An internship is a great opportunity for them to see how all of the different functions of a company work together. Why not allow the intern to spend some time with each department to get an understanding of how they work together as one? However, always bear in mind that your intern ultimately needs hands-on experience in their specific field of expertise.

6. Finish with a project

At the end of the internship you could set a specific project for your intern. This is a golden opportunity for your intern to put into practice everything that they have learned with you. For example, for an engineering host this could be the design of a component using your 3-D modelling software. For a marketing host it could be to research the effectiveness of using Instagram adverts for the launch of a new product.

7. Conduct a final review

Before an intern leaves you, do spend some time completing a final review. Use the initial feedback you received in the first week as well as your intern’s journal to reflect on the internship, things that went well and areas for potential improvement.

8. Refine your program

Each time you host an intern, it is an opportunity for you to refine and improve your internship program for the next graduate that comes on board with you. Before long you will have a comprehensive and well-rehearsed program that will work well for all parties involved.

 

Can you remember your first professional work experience? Every day at Readygrad we meet eager young professionals at the beginning of their career journey, looking for their first 'big break'. Over 4,500 companies across Australia are hosting these interns. Find out how hosting an intern could be as equally rewarding for your company!

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