The Ins And Outs Of Internship Programs
Have you had the chance to participate in an internship program or provide this opportunity to anyone? How smooth was the process for you? Have there been any information you wanted to obtain but maybe the process was not exactly how you expected it to be? In the following article, I will explain how I developed this program in the past and, also, how I think would be a good way for an intern to take advantage of this experience. So, let’s start!
A Step-By-Step Guide To Developing An Internship Program
1. Internship Strategy
If you are in the position to start this program for the first time within your department or company, you need to start creating an internship strategy. This strategy should contain:
- Purpose of the internship
- Target audience
- Internship objectives
- Process flow
- Hiring process (including the roles and responsibilities, role announcement, interview dates, selection process, and candidate announcement)
- Marketing plan (on how the roles will be promoted, where, and until when)
- Onboarding period
- Main tasks
- Timeline for the entire process (from the strategy until the end of the internship program).
2. Onboarding Plan Development
Once your strategy is ready, there is one more important step to be done before you start posting the job roles: developing a specialized onboarding plan for the interns. The onboarding plan should include an HR induction, such as presenting the company, company policies, benefits, tools’ access, and any other administrative stuff that every new hire/intern should be aware of. It should also include receiving an onboarding welcoming email from the learning team with the following steps:
- Get to know the team
- Team ground rules
- General services/products of the company
- A general presentation of the department where the internship role is
- Dedicated sessions in each area of that department to get in-depth details of the role and specific tasks
- A dedicated tools session to learn how to use the tools the intern will work with
- A Q&A session
- A practice session (here the interns can receive small projects to work on in a team where they come up with ideas, suggestions, and questions but also see how everything would look like—at least a small part of the tasks).
3. Recruitment Process
After the plan and the content are prepared for the onboarding, the recruitment process can start. What does it mean? You can start communicating with the HR department, providing the role description including the role and responsibilities. They will start posting and promoting the role and invite candidates for interviews to start the hiring process. Once you’ve selected the preferred candidates, the onboarding process can start! Check the above section for inspiration.
The onboarding part can be either face-to-face or virtual. It can also combine virtual and face-to-face sessions. Even if the sessions are delivered face-to-face or virtually it’s always a good idea to have all the onboarding content online as well. This provides the opportunity for your interns to review the training whenever they need it or when it is necessary. The online onboarding training can always be used as a backup plan to prepare the new joiners if the sessions can’t be done face-to-face or virtually—the company will also have a knowledge base of what was created/developed.
Tip: Within your online onboarding sessions try to always use professional images, the company logo, animations, and interactive activities.
5. Practice Session
One last step is needed before starting the internship role activities: the practice session! This part can consist of small activities/tasks, or even projects, by splitting the interns into roles or projects to work on. This will help the team to have a brief overview of the main activities, and start learning how to perform them step by step. During this time, the new joiners will have a buddy to shadow that can support them with answers or help. After the activities are done, they can be checked together with the manager or the buddy so that the interns are ready for the role transition. During the role transition, the interns start performing daily tasks receiving support from the team when needed.
6. End Of The Internship
At the end of the internship period, the company can evaluate the objectives, perform a checklist to make sure all the steps have been covered, send a survey to check what can be improved and provide a test. Based on that test, a badge can be received! The badge can be added to their CV and promoted on social media.
I am an organized person and I believe that a structured internship onboarding program will help both the company, because it will have an internal integrated plan that can be used every time it is needed, and the new joiners, by receiving a professional and well-done learning path during their entire journey within the company. So, I encourage everyone to create a good and valuable onboarding plan for the new joiners, as this will:
- Guarantee better retention rates.
- Create a good relationship between the interns and the other team members from the beginning.
- Help engage the entire team including integrating the new joiners.
- The new joiners will be happier and more productive.
- Maintain the organizational culture by providing the necessary information to the new joiners.