Feb 22, 2013

10 do's and don'ts of a successful internship program

An internship program is successful when it helps young interns and your organization to benefit mutually. There are many Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to designing a successful internship program, pertaining to legalities, PR, HR and so on. Read on to know more.

1. Look For Interns Who’ll Make Good Employees
Set up high standards at the very beginning; this will help you interview and shortlist the right candidates for an internship. Whether you ultimately hire your interns as employees or not, it’s good to look for those who have the potential to prove themselves as good manpower investments down the line.
2. Offer Paid Internships If You Can Afford Them
For both legal and ethical reasons, it’s best to offer paid internships, unless you’re a nonprofit organization. By choosing not to pay, you’ll be leaving out a large section of the talent pool who cannot afford an unpaid internship. Unpaid internships are illegal in some states, so be sure to do your due-diligence in this area before hiring.
3. Offer Alternative Benefits If You Cannot Afford To Pay Them
If you cannot afford to pay your interns, it’s wise to compensate them in other ways. Consider offering valuable additional training, course credit, transport allowance, food allowance, and residential benefits and so on. Be on the same page with the dictates of labor law in your region.
4. Offer A Professionally Enhancing Experience
The intent must be to offer an excellent ground for training and experience, even if you don’t plan on hiring them as employees later. Assign tasks and projects that will help your interns learn important industry-related aspects, and not just projects that benefit your company.
5. Streamline The Internship Program Effectively
Paid or unpaid, it doesn’t help anyone to be too flexible with an internship. Establish rules and guidelines for up-front commitment right at the beginning. Your interns must know their start date, end date, hours of work, stipend rate, working hours, notice period and so on. There should be no confusion. 
6. Establish Clear Lines Of Authority
Assign your interns to supervisors, and establish guidelines for reporting, writing reports and so on. Make sure each intern knows what is expected of him or her. Set clear rules pertaining to project and task management, and the penalty for wrongdoings and irresponsibility.

7. Don't Overload Your Interns
Evaluate your staff’s current responsibilities and time limitations carefully before assigning interns to them. An overloaded staff member will not be able to give an intern the deserved time and attention. This will only adversely impact the entire internship program.
8. Don’t Take Advantage
Yes, young interns are usually raring to go and would want to impress you more than anything. That doesn’t mean it is ok to take advantage and assign additional work, especially on weekends and off days. There are legal guidelines concerning interns; it’s best to review these with your lawyer before hiring.
9. Don’t Extend Internship Period
In most states, it’s illegal to spend more than 6 months at an internship, especially without pay. If you want to retain your interns beyond this period, you must pay them a full salary. The best programs are designed for 12 weeks; if your projects are not completed by then, consult your lawyers about extending the program.
10. Don’t Start A Program Without Consulting
Before you start the program, consult with the Cooperative Education Coordinator of your local university. Also consult your legal advisors, your State’s employment and internship laws and so on. All of this will give you the support and guidance you need to create, evaluate and market your internship programs.
About the Author: Deep is working for internship in China Company TIC TWO where he works with interns, mentors and guides them through his company’s internship program.

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