As a college student, I believe it is important to gain valuable experience in the workforce. My internship at Transform Consulting Group (TCG) has wrapped up, and I feel better prepared for graduation because of this summer experience. I am grateful for companies like TCG who provide opportunities to interns (like myself) to build our skills, network with other professionals and strengthen our resumes.
I understand that hiring interns can be a gamble for organizations. You invest time and resources into someone who is often a college student, has little experience and is still sharpening their skillset. While interns do make more work, there are some benefits for hosting an intern:
- Build your talent pipeline: An internship program is a great recruiting tool and can help you create an ongoing pipeline for your workforce.
- Increase productivity: There is extra time needed on the front-end of an internship program to get the intern ready to dive into the work. However, once you have done the proper training, it can be nice to have extra hands on deck for projects.
- Save money: Interns can be a low cost (TCG pays their interns!) resource for your organization while still being highly motivated workers.
- Build leadership development opportunities: Having an intern can be a great way to encourage leadership growth among your team by assigning different (maybe even unlikely) employees to supervise an intern.
Now that I have sold you on the benefits of having interns, there are certain things that organizations can do to make it a meaningful experience for everyone! Here are 5 ways to help strengthen your internship programs:
1. Develop an in-depth orientation
Your intern has (hopefully) already studied the company prior to their first day, but it’s important to spend time catching them up to speed on who you are and the work your organization does in the community. You want them to feel confident right away, and it equips them to accurately explain your organization’s work when they share their experiences with fellow students, professors, and future employers.
On day one of my internship, I had a complete employee onboarding. I received collateral materials that tell the story of TCG, and had an opportunity to ask questions about the company.
2. Treat the intern as a real employee
It benefits both the intern and your organization if you provide them with real-world tasks and tangible projects. It is important to remember that even if they will be an employee for a short period of time, their work will still have an impact on the organization. Give your intern opportunities to contribute and walk away from the experience with work they can add to their portfolios.
3. Schedule regular check-ins
Not only is an internship a great way for a young professional to gain work experience, but it can be a way for them to learn from other professionals in your organization. Allow for times of discussion, share your story, and be transparent about lessons you learned along the way in your career.
4. Practice patience
Every organization has a different way of doing things. It takes time for any new employee to understand the culture and work environment at a new organization. Be patient with your interns as they learn the ins and outs of your organization and how they can contribute. More than likely it will take them longer to complete a task, and there will probably be some additional reviews involved.
5. Provide time for networking
Along with connecting interns within your organization (if you have more than one), it is also beneficial to allow for opportunities to build their network outside of your walls.
I was able to enjoy social events like Rotary meetings, educational conferences, and networking specific events with other local interns. To make the most of time out of the office, be intentional about scheduling time to debrief.
Internships are a critical step in a young professional’s learning and a company’s talent pipeline. Overall, my experience at TCG as a marketing intern provided opportunities to strengthen my skills and abilities, learn more about the type of work I want to do in the future, and gave me practical experiences that I can share in my portfolio as I begin the job search. It’s the type of experience I hope my fellow classmates are able to find!