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Creating an internship program is the key for successful intern experiences. Employers must be prepared to receive resumes, interview applicants, select candidates, train new hires and provide structure and feedback for interns. The most successful internship programs are planned with the interests of both the employer and intern in mind.
It is critical that a learning component accompany the tasks performed by the intern. This learning component must maintain throughout the internship. A supervisor must be available to guide and counsel the inexperienced student.
Internships are designed to provide students with an opportunity to learn about a specific field or career. The intern will understand more about your work and the goals of your organization if they can experience a day in the life of an employee. The intern can gain great knowledge by participating in a staff meeting, client meeting, listening to a conference call, accompanying staff on field visits, and participating in any other important events that make up your job. Broaden these shadowing experiences to include others in the organization.
Student interns also have academic obligations in addition to their internship. Employers should work with students to schedule working hours around their classes. Most students will be able to work part-time (10 - 20 hours) during a semester. Internships during a summer can be full-time (40 hours) positions.
If you have several interns, you may want to hold a formal orientation day or half day. During this time, interns can be introduced to company policies and the logistic aspects of their position.
Interns should be provided with feedback on their performance several times during the course of the internship. Feedback may be in oral or written form, but should be presented by the intern's supervisor.
As the end of the internship approaches, each intern should be evaluated and given feedback on his or her performance. At this time, employers may want to consider the intern's future possibilities in the company or organization. Interns may be offered full- or part-time positions in the company or may be asked to extend their internship for the following semester or over the summer. Compensation, schedules and duties for these possibilities should be discussed as early as possible so that the students are able to plan for the following term. If interns are not a good fit for the company, employers should offer advice on ways to improve their performance for their next internship or job.
Employers should end the internship period with a debriefing session, individually or in a group. Report statistics to the Internship Program www.csun.edu/career/~intern and click on survey.
Internship & Experiential Learning Programs
Janice Potzmann, Assistant Director