Summer internship programs are a great way to attract fresh, new talent to your organization and might lead to a permanent hire. Whether late fall or early winter, it is never too early to think about your summer internship program. Recruiting usually begins in late January or early February after students return from winter break. Suppose you are new to having an internship program. In that case, there are a few key things to have in place before you start recruiting for the role, including a compensation plan, assignments, and a broader picture of how the role impacts your organization.
Here are five areas to focus on to ensure your organization is ready to commence recruitment.
- Define your internship program goals and objectives: What are you hoping to achieve through your summer internship program? What skills and experience do you want your interns to gain? Clear goals and objectives will help you attract suitable candidates and ensure a successful internship experience for all involved.
- Evaluate your resources: Do you have the resources needed to accommodate and support your interns, including a dedicated workspace, computer equipment, and access to software? Additionally, will you have a mentor or supervisor available to oversee their work and provide guidance?
- Develop a comprehensive internship program: Create a structured program with clear job responsibilities, weekly schedules, and feedback mechanisms. You should also outline your expectations for intern behavior, dress code, and communication.
- Determine compensation and benefits: Decide what type of compensation you will offer your interns, and make sure it complies with local labor laws and regulations.
- Build a strong recruitment process: Determine your recruitment channels, such as college job fairs, online job boards, or social media, and create a robust application and selection process to ensure you find the best candidates for your program. You may also consider setting up informational interviews or skill assessments to evaluate applicants’ suitability further.
Outline the role, responsibilities, and compensation package
Summer internships are gaining popularity among employers — and many organizations offer compensation and limited benefits. The 2022 NACE Internship & Co-op survey report found that employers increased their intern hiring by 22.6% for the 2021–22 academic year. And according to Zippia, 60.8% of internships in the U.S. are paid, and of those paid internships, 52% are more likely to lead to full-time employment.
What does this mean for you? There is competition out there when you are looking to hire, and whether or not you will compensate your interns will impact your recruitment and retention efforts. Offering a paid internship is a good idea if you want to be competitive and recruit top talent.
There are many factors to consider when determining pay for your internship program. Start by outlining the role and responsibilities of your interns. If you offer internships across various departments, the duties for each position may be different, thus requiring different pay. Do your research to determine the going rate in your industry and for each specific role. Will you offer any additional benefits, such as transit passes? These are other considerations when determining your intern compensation.
If you do not want to pay your interns, do your diligence and ensure your program passes the FLSA test for unpaid internships.
Not sure how to incorporate internships into your current compensation plan? A compensation expert can help! At Compensation Works, we have the tools and expertise to help you incorporate an internship program that offers competitive pay.
Be ready for your summer interns before recruiting starts
Now that you know the roles and responsibilities of each internship role and the compensation, the next step is to start outlining the program. Human Resource thought leader, SHRM, stresses having a well-planned internship, citing that a well-rounded program with meaningful work leads to positive contributions from interns and prepares candidates for a seamless transition into full-time jobs. This equates to thinking through your program from start to finish and beyond.
Ask yourself the following questions to build a comprehensive internship program:
- Who is managing the internship program?
- To whom will the interns report?
- What tasks and assignments will they perform?
- Is this a virtual, in-office, or hybrid position?
- What does their first day look like — is there an introductory breakfast or lunch?
- How will we provide training and support for the interns?
- What are our expectations for the intern’s performance, and how will we measure their success?
Creating a program before recruiting begins allows your new hires to hit the ground running and plays a significant role in the hiring process. During the interview stage, you can give prospective interns a good idea of their day-to-day life.
In your planning, include a post-internship evaluation for the interns and employees participating in the program. Review all the feedback you receive and make any necessary adjustments before the next internship season. If there are any participants that you are interested in possibly hiring for a post-graduate position or another internship opportunity, make sure to keep in touch throughout the year.
Summer internships can offer value for your entire organization
Internships are more than someone’s first job; they are an opportunity for individuals in your organization to mentor those just starting in the industry. Sharing experiences and expertise can have a lasting impact on a young person’s career, not to mention increasing the chances that the intern will stay around past the summer (or the end of your program). And as a bonus, mentoring can help seasoned employees feel more satisfaction in their roles.
To help expose interns to multiple facets of your business, offer different opportunities to learn about the industry and your company throughout the program. Ideas include lunch and learns, shadowing or scheduling informational interviews with employees, and team-building activities. Please don’t be reluctant to solicit input from your interns and uncover their areas of interest for further exploration.
Internships can be invaluable experiences for those new to the workforce. They can be an excellent way for organizations to see if a potential candidate would make a good long-term hire. From compensation to the work they will do, the more time you spend planning and preparing for your summer interns, the more you and your new hires will get out of the program.
Well-thought-out and executed program can also:
- bring new ideas and approaches to the workplace, which can help a company stay ahead of the curve and remain innovative,
- provide increased productivity by allowing interns to take on tasks that may not be a priority for full-time employees, freeing up their time to focus on more critical projects.
- allow companies to evaluate potential candidates for full-time positions and determine if they would be a good fit for the organization.
Whether you have a seasoned internship program or this is your first time offering it, having a compensation expert review is always a good first step. Compensation Works has helped many organizations integrate internship programs into their compensation plans. Contact us today to get started.