How to structure a quality internship experience

BY Michael Ciantar |

An internship can mean many things to a student. It can vary from bridging a Degree and a Career, to utilising the experience to complete said degree in the first place. On the contrary, a host company can be seeking out an internship opportunity for a range of reasons, from giving back to their industry, to getting assistance in upcoming projects, or even looking for their next rock-star employee.

With these factors in mind (as well as a range of many others), the question of ‘How do I structure a quality internship?’ is a common one. In simple terms, and in a complete contrast to the heading of this article, there isn’t one. Every company Readygrad works with has different processes, different cultures and different people. There is no one size fits all.

What there is, however, is a method of understanding what works best for both you as a host company, and your eager intern. Through a clear understanding of what the internship looks like, combined with a clear communication with the candidate, a successful and smooth internship experience can evolve for both a host and an intern.

Understanding and Structure

An ideal host partner will identify the tasks and roles associated before undertaking the process of sourcing an intern. From our experience working with new organisations, we have identified a few key factors in the structural process;

- A well-defined Placement Description (PD) of the tasks performed during the internship.

- A clear description of what you expect from a suitable candidate.

- An understanding of who will be mentoring the intern, as well as defining whom they will be working with through the Placement.

Combining the above factors with adequate preparation before an internship begins can pay major dividends in a quality experience.

Clear Communication with your Intern

It can be tough for internal recruiters to define the difference between hiring an employee and an intern. Students who undertake a Vocational Placement program will generally not have the experience that would be expected of an employee, and are rather looking to earn said experience in their placement.

Rather than focusing purely on experiences from the past, our most successful hosts ask about what an intern wants to experience in the future. By learning about his/her ambitions, attitudes and passions, a middle ground can be attained where a host will be able to provide relevant learning experiences that align with the company’s needs.

Communication with your intern during their placement is also crucial. What is/isn’t working for them? What have they learned? What feedback do they have for the company?

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