If your company or corporation has not yet established an internship program with a college or university, this may be a good time to create such a program, said Greg Mass, executive director, Career Development Services, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). For information, contact Mass at 973-596-5745.
This year more than 500 organizations will recruit at NJIT as part of the university’s internship program. Some interns receive a wage, while others are unpaid. Most students receive college credit for their participation.
Why are internships so popular? “Internships can be a cost-effective method for identifying and fast-tracking the training and development of future employees,” said Mass. He offers five tips to understand if using interns will suit your workplace.
Why do you want a program? If you see interns as an inexpensive way to increase the employee headcount, then you’re on the wrong track, said Mass. Rather see interns contributing to your company fresh ideas and viewpoints, using their advanced computer skills, plus exhibiting energy and a thirst for knowledge. In turn, interns will seek from you a practical application of classroom learning.
What do you hope to accomplish? Most employers want a balance of getting something of value, while offering students something in return. If planned correctly, an internship can be mutually rewarding. Companies seek interns as a way of previewing prospective employees. Nationally, approximately 70 percent of students are offered regular employment from the company in which they’ve held an internship.
Are objectives short or long term? Will interns fill a one-time assignment, or multiple positions over a longer period? Are you seeking to use interns to develop a future talent pool? Any intended time period is fine, but timing can impact structure and planning. Long-term internships are better served by developing formal relationships with college administrators and faculty.
What size program makes sense for your organization? “While we could all use extra help,” said Mass, “internships generally will only work, if companies have resources. This includes a dedicated supervisor, a planned work assignment and a physical or virtual space suitable for work. It is best to start out small and build success.”
Is your organizational culture conducive to student development? Successful programs require supportive work environments. It is essential that the supervisor want an intern. Note how other employees will react. Staff members often count on the infusion of positive energy and attitudes that interns bring to their organizations.