Maximizing the value of an internship: How to make the most of your intern's time and talents

Internships are a great way for students to gain relevant work experience and develop their skills while providing small businesses with valuable help. However, simply having an intern isn't enough to maximize the potential value they can bring to your organization. In this blog article, we'll explore strategies for making the most of your intern's time and talents, from offering meaningful projects to promoting open communication and feedback and even considering offering a full-time position.
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April 27, 2023
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Introduction

Internships are a great way for students to gain relevant work experience and develop their skills while providing small businesses with valuable help. However, simply having an intern isn't enough to maximize the potential value they can bring to your organization. In this blog article, we'll explore strategies for making the most of your intern's time and talents, from offering meaningful projects to promoting open communication and feedback and even considering offering a full-time position. 

Read on to learn how to set your intern up for success and create a mutually beneficial relationship.

Position yourself as a place of value

When offering internships, it's important to make sure that interns have a meaningful experience that aligns with their skills, interests, and career goals. One way to do this is by providing interns with real-world projects that contribute to the growth and success of the small business, allowing them to apply their talents and make a tangible impact. It's also essential to assign a mentor or supervisor to offer guidance, feedback, and support throughout the internship, demonstrating your commitment to their development. 

Additionally, providing access to learning resources, workshops, and training opportunities can enhance their skills and knowledge, and show that your business values their growth and success. By implementing these strategies, small businesses can ensure that interns have a valuable and enriching experience.

Make sure you're hiring the right candidates

When hiring interns, it is important to define clear role expectations and requirements. This means being specific about the responsibilities and expectations of the internship position, outlining the necessary skills and qualifications, and detailing the scope of projects and tasks the intern will be responsible for. By doing so, candidates can fully understand the role and assess their suitability before applying.

It is also important to use a comprehensive approach when assessing candidates. This involves evaluating candidates not just based on their resumes, but also through interviews, assessment tests, and reference checks. This approach allows you to gauge important factors such as soft skills, adaptability, and cultural fit, which are critical to a successful internship experience.

Utilizing work-based learning platforms like Riipen can make the process easier and more efficient. With Riipen, you can easily post your internship needs and access a pool of pre-vetted candidates. The platform also offers tools to interview potential interns and assess their skills and qualifications, making it easier to evaluate candidates and find the best fit for your organization. 

Set the right tone from day one and plan ahead for post-graduation success

Creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for interns is essential for setting the right tone and increasing their engagement and productivity. This includes small gestures such as warm greetings, introductions to team members, and assigning a mentor or buddy for guidance and support.

Additionally, defining clear goals and expectations for interns is crucial for helping them understand their role and providing them with a roadmap for success. This includes outlining specific projects, skills development, and providing regular feedback to ensure they stay on track.

Planning for post-graduation success is also crucial in internships. This includes helping interns develop resumes or portfolios, providing networking opportunities, and career advice. Encouraging professional development opportunities and creating a culture of learning can also help interns build new skills and stay engaged.

If your intern has demonstrated strong skills and is a good fit with your organization, consider offering them a full-time position after they graduate. This can be a win-win situation for both the intern and the organization, as the intern already has a solid understanding of the organization's culture, values, and operations.

Make an effort to involve interns in your company culture

Encouraging interns to feel like valued members of your organization is key to creating a positive internship experience. One way to achieve this is by involving them in company events, social gatherings, and team-building activities. This integration helps them feel like they belong, which in turn positively impacts their motivation, engagement, and commitment to their work. 

Offering opportunities for cross-departmental collaboration exposes interns to various aspects of the company's operations and culture. This not only broadens their understanding of the organization but also helps them build valuable connections and develop a diverse set of skills. 

Promoting open communication and feedback is also crucial for the growth and development of interns. Encouraging them to ask questions, share ideas, and seek guidance from supervisors and peers demonstrates that their opinions and insights matter, which can result in increased confidence, initiative, and overall productivity during their internship. By creating a well-rounded internship experience that includes all of these components, you can maximize the value of their time and talents.

Stay in touch with them after they've graduated

It's important to maintain a relationship with your former intern even after they've completed their internship. Continued mentoring and support can help them develop their skills and advance in their careers. As such, introduce them to other professionals in your network and offer networking opportunities to help them build new connections. 

Seeking feedback from them on their internship experience can also help you improve your program for future interns. Keeping up with their career progress can also help identify potential collaboration opportunities or even future employment at your organization. Providing ongoing support such as letters of recommendation, professional development resources, or simply staying in touch can show that you value their contributions and are invested in their career success.

Conclusion

Internships offer a win-win situation for both interns and organizations. By following these steps, small businesses can provide a valuable experience for interns while maximizing the potential contributions they bring to the company.

Whether you’re a startup, a solopreneur with ambitious plans, or a small business owner with a desire for growth, sign in or create your free Riipen employer account and access student talent from 430+ universities and colleges in Canada, US, UK, and Australia.

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About the author:

Jennifer Lussier is a bilingual Content Marketing Specialist based in Montreal, QC. With a multidisciplinary background and a desire to accomplish more for the betterment of society, she joined Riipen in 2019 as an Academic Account Manager and has since migrated to the marketing team as it is more closely aligned with her interests and expertise.

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