Developing a successful internship program that results in high intern retention is critical to maximize your investment return. By implementing these best practices, your interns will not only undergo a valuable experience and want to return for a full-time position, but your time, money, and effort will see tangible results.
Learn About Your Interns' Goals
Upon hire, meet with your interns and discuss their goals and objectives for the internship and beyond (2). Have them communicate what skills they are looking to gain, what knowledge they are looking to acquire, and who they are looking to meet. Hearing your interns' goals will allow you to tailor their tasks toward these objectives, connect them with professionals in a field of interest, and optimize their internship experience. This effort will go a long way as it builds a relationship between you and your interns and makes them feel as though you are committed to them and their growth.
Give Your Interns Meaningful Work and Challenge Them
If intern retention is important to you, it is critical that you assign your interns relevant, fulfilling, and challenging work (1). This combination is two-fold: not only do your interns’ experience tremendous growth, both personally and professionally, but it also signals to your interns that you trust them, you value them, and you believe in them. You will find your interns more engaged, excited, and productive. To keep it simple, meaningful work creates meaningful internships (2).
Integrate Your Interns
Build a community around your interns. Whether it’s through meet-and-greets, brunches, mentorships or team building exercises, prioritize integrating your interns into the team (1). This will indicate to your interns that they are valued beyond the assignments and tasks they complete, and that your company is committed to getting to know them. Encouraging the creation of personal connections and openness is a common missed step, but doing so is critical to your interns engagement (2). Creating warmth and quality culture around your interns is memorable and gives them an exciting glimpse into what working at your company full-time looks like.
Provide Opportunities for Growth
Offer your interns resources to grow. Encourage your interns to share their ideas and develop a voice. Entrust them with special projects and difficult tasks. Allow them to learn from you and their mistakes. Arrange networking events for your interns. Your options are unlimited. Encouraging growth and slight discomfort will leave your interns feeling empowered and rewarded. These feelings are unforgettable, ultimately making your internship program stand out to them.
Stay In Touch Post-Internship
If your interns are valuable, don’t forget about them. If offering a full-time position post internship is not possible, continue conversation (1). Check in with your interns to see how their semester is going, share exciting news or knowledge with them, take them to dinner if your locations align, and keep them clued in on job openings at your company. Most importantly though, periodically communicate and remind your interns of their value and worth. Everyone craves validation in some capacity. You’ve invested time and energy into establishing a relationship with your interns, make it worth it (2).
Applying these practices to your internship program will result in greater success and retention. Your investment on return will boost and your interns will leave your program feeling valued, knowledgeable, and powerful. That’s an exciting outcome.
For more information on creating successful internship programs, visit Ontern.com