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Productivity From Summer Internships

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For some companies, taking on summer interns is a priority, but for others it’s neither ideal nor convenient. In today’s post, we’re highlighting reasons why taking on a team of eager learners can enhance office productivity.

When you say “summer internship,” often times you’ll get one of two responses from those in charge of organizing the workload and schedule for them:

    1. Our program is organized, but I’ve got so much on my plate already it’s not something I enjoy dealing with year after year.
    2. It’s very difficult figuring out what to do with them and I feel bad because they’re probably bored.

Does this sound at all familiar? If so, don’t fret. You’re not alone in these thoughts. But there are ways to create an internship program that is not just meaningful to interns, but productive for your office as well. The first step is to recognize the following: individuals looking for internships / apprenticeships are impressionable and eager to learn! This is true for two reasons:

  • They want to get experience in order to discover whether or not they’re on the right track.
  • They want to “beef” up their knowledge to enhance their resumes.

In fact, according to an article from Orange County Breeze, college admission teams aren’t just examining grades and test scores when it comes to student applications:

Colleges want students who take on a position of responsibility. Keeping assigned hours and being responsible for certain projects shows maturity. Colleges also look for students who are dedicated, committed and show a specific interest. It is better to have a few meaningful causes than a long list of organizations.

As a writer for The Methodology Blog, it’s exciting for me to read words encouraging people and companies to provide meaningful work to their employees. After all, when employees are happy and engaged in their work, it’s inevitable: productivity prospers! So, when it comes to making internships available at your company, consider that having a defined, meaningful program is beneficial on both sides of the equation–interns are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in a learning environment that aids in their experience level, while companies reach levels of productivity that may have otherwise been unreachable.

BONUS: companies may just discover valuable workmanship in their interns that could eventually lead to new team members!

Internship fair

© Flickr user NazarethCollege

Setting Up An Internship Program in Your Office

If you’re thinking about developing an internship program for your company, but are unsure as to where to start, consider the following suggestions posted by internships.com.

  • Learn about the landscape.
  • . . . gain a general understanding of the internship arena: What exactly is an internship? Who is Generation Y, and what should you know about hiring them? What are interns looking for in a host organization?

  • Evaluate your organization.
  • . . . conduct an internal assessment of your company’s needs and resources.

    Some aspects to consider are whether you will pay interns, or how you can otherwise compensate intern efforts; whether your company can support multiple interns; the availability of meaningful work for interns; the type of projects that can be assigned;

  • Learn about legality.
  • . . . get a grasp on the legal ramifications of hosting interns in your state: minimum wage requirements, workers’ compensation issues, safety and harassment policies, termination guidelines, and how other traditional employee benefits and business responsibilities do or don’t apply to interns.

  • Understand college credit.
  • . . . an internship is a learning experience. But whether or not educational credit is obtained is strictly between the student and his or her school.

  • Gain business-wide backing.
  • For an internship to succeed, it’s necessary to get the entire business on board. From the CEO to senior and junior management, without big-picture buy-in, interns won’t feel welcome, and it will be a constant struggle to allocate resources.

  • Design the program.
  • A comprehensive internship structure should include information on learning objectives, daily responsibilities, short- and long-term projects, supervisor assignments, evaluation procedures, policies and expectations, and orientation and off-boarding processes,

  • Put together a compensation plan.
  • Delegate duties.
  • Having staff members take ownership of key roles and responsibilities ensures implementation will move forward and that the internship program will run smoothly once in place. But it doesn’t end there. Make sure intern supervisors have the time and resources to effectively manage the participants and the program itself.

  • Select a start date for interns.
  • Post the position.
  • Evaluate candidates.
  • Interview, select, and hire interns.

Last Piece of Advice

Looking back on the days of my own internship endeavors, I recall quite vividly the lack of work available for me to complete. I spent most my days searching for things to do. Fast forward fifteen years–my niece mentioned recently that she is already bored in her internship and it’s only the second week on the job. She received a project assignment on the first day that was supposed to last her all summer long. She finished it on day five and is now scrambling to find things to occupy her time.

So here is my personal piece of advice: DON’T LEAVE YOUR INTERNS HANGING!

Make sure you have plenty of work for them to do. Not only is it miserable for the interns, but it’s an incredible waste of resources for your company. Whether it’s several large projects that can be overseen by a current employee or smaller projects that require upkeep on a daily basis, give your interns meaningful tasks that keep them occupied and, most importantly, contribute to the overall productiveness of your office.

Creating an internship program takes time and money there’s no doubt about it. But if you have the resources and interest (both from current employees and potential interns), the development may just be worth your while!

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Ashley Lee

Ashley Lee

Ashley has been working with the AccelaWork team since 2008. She is a communications expert with a background in corporate work, and a graduate of the University of Dayton with a degree in Public Relations. She lives in the greater Indianapolis area with her husband and four children. Ashley enjoys jewelry, fashion, and coffee.
Ashley Lee

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