Summer Internships

By: Krissy Fuller

Earlier sunrises, warmer air, lightning bugs (or fireflies), bbq’s, ice cream, stone fruits, late sunsets.   Can you picture it?  The slight breeze on sunkissed skin, the laughter of kids playing outside, the smell of blooming flowers, graduations,  it all means one thing – Summer is near!

In our individual lives, most of us are probably daydreaming about summer vacation. In our work lives, as a business owner you may be gearing up for your summer internships to start.  Summer internships are a highly valuable two way street – but they must be set up correctly for that to happen.  Let’s dive in and look at a few ways to make your summer internship program one that truly helps your organization and your intern.

Gone are the days of viewing interns as free labor.  (Seriously, if you want to do this – don’t.  The risk isn’t worth the reward and quite frankly, let’s be better business owners) But wait Krissy what about course credit – I don’t have to pay them if they get that right? Yes, AND there are very specific regulations you need to abide by in order to do so. Which is by design to make sure students aren’t being taken advantage of.    If you are interested, let me know and we can chat through what it looks like to do it this way.  It can be long, complicated and a little toooo in depth for this blog.  🙂 Now back to the topic at hand.   

Here are the ways that your company can make the most of your summer internship program: 

  1. Pay interns:  Paid internships help attract top talent, promote diversity and inclusion by making internships accessible to students from all backgrounds, and allow interns to take on more meaningful work.
  2. Facilitate mentorship opportunities:  Assign each intern a mentor or “buddy” who can guide them, provide feedback, and help them integrate into the company culture. Mentorship benefits both the interns and the employees acting as mentors.
  3. Assign meaningful projects: Give interns real, substantive work that challenges them and allows them to make valuable contributions. Avoid assigning only administrative tasks. Consider group projects that require cross-team collaboration.
  4. Create feedback loops: Actively solicit feedback and ideas from interns. Their fresh perspectives can stimulate innovation. Conduct exit interviews to gain insights for improving the program.
  5. Play the long game: Treat internships as a long-term investment. Build an alumni network to stay connected with past interns as potential future employees. The best interns may receive full-time job offers.
  6. Provide learning opportunities:  Structure the internship to maximize learning through training, job shadowing, attending meetings, and working on diverse projects across different teams.
  7. Offer networking events: Connect interns with employees across the company through networking events, lunch and learns, or company social events to expand their professional network.
  8. Give exposure to leadership: Allow interns to interact with and learn from company leaders through meetings, presentations or mentorship opportunities.

Internships are a valuable opportunity for both the individual and the company to grow.  Are you doing everything on this list?  Did any surprise you?  What are you looking forward to with your summer internships?  Let  me know – let’s keep the conversation going!


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