Designing your Internship Program with the Future in Mind

Want help with your hiring? It's easy. Enter your information below, and we'll quickly reach out to discuss your hiring needs.

Summer is coming, and along with it, the interns. They need you and you need them. Don’t make this a missed opportunity. Interns are in it for the knowledge, the experience and ultimately, the chance for a full-time position. And companies are in it for the community outreach perks, the cheap labor and above all, the great sourcing opportunity.

Design the Program with Purpose

When you take time to design a program and prepare a dynamic intern job description, you are setting this position apart from any another internship. When you present this position as an exciting opportunity and deliver it to the right candidates, you will generate a better pool of potential future employees.

These programs provide your mid-level employees the chance to manage and mentor; free up time for employees to dive into other tasks; provide community outreach; and get your company name out to college campuses.

If the reach of these programs consists of future recruits, the community and present employees, you might want to concentrate on getting it right.

Choose Wisely

If you enter the selection process with the, “It’s just an intern” attitude, then that’s exactly what you’ll get…just an intern. But that isn’t the goal here. When you consider the sourcing possibilities that come along with taking on an intern, this can be an important decision.

Background checks, resumes and interviews should all be standard in the choosing of the intern. Sure your trusted worker, their aunt, put in a good word for the person, but if he/she can’t show up to an interview on time, you might need to keep looking. Internships are often granted to referred candidates, but the process should be the same for everyone.

Additionally, the mentor should be taken into consideration throughout the selection process. In other words, use some common sense when pairing your intern with their mentor. The “have you seen my stapler” tech genius might not do too well with the squeaky, high-energy, newb designer.

Onboard for Pete’s Sake

Taking time to orientate interns and make them feel comfortable and welcome will get this whole process moving faster. Having people, paperwork, projects and expectations in-line and clearly communicated will set both the mentor and the intern at ease and get them on track in a timely manner. “Let’s see what we can find for you to do”, should never even be a thought. If you don’t have a project, you shouldn’t have an intern.

Sure, it looks good to the community, but they’re there for a reason, and it’s most likely not to answer phones…unless it’s an answering phones internship.


Yup, they’re an intern and they might be expected to get your coffee, or pick up lunch, but respect is nonnegotiable. This could, and hopefully will be a co-worker, and they should be treated as such. Quite often the line between mentor and @-hole is crossed in the mentor-intern relationship. It should be clear that this isn’t just a lap to dump extra work. Be clear about the responsibilities and expectations of the mentor. In clear communications about the internship you might find that the employee won’t want to be a mentor. It’s better you find that out ahead of time, than potentially ruin a great recruitment opportunity.

This is an opportunity to build upon your talent pipeline and recruit quite inexpensively. If everyone enters this experience with the right attitude and a goal toward the advancement of the company, a four-month internship could turn into so much more. Internships can make or break employer brand. Make sure you’re makes it.

photo credit: Ed Yourdon via photopin cc

Read more in Selection

Maren Hogan is a seasoned marketer and community builder in the HR and Recruiting industry. She leads Red Branch Media, an agency offering marketing strategy and content development. A consistent advocate of next generation marketing techniques, Hogan has built successful online communities, deployed brand strategies in both the B2B and B2C sectors, and been a prolific contributor of thought leadership in the global recruitment and talent space. Hogan speaks and writes on all career and workforce related subjects. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies and SMBs around the globe. Red Branch Media was formed in 2006 as a simple consultancy. Today, the firm is a full-service B2B Marketing Agency that serves clients in the U.K., Africa, China, Israel, Europe and North America. Primarily focused on the Human Resources and Global Workforce vendors, Red Branch Media handles clients of all shapes and sizes.
Google+ Profile