On Monday, October 4, 2010, Maine's then Governor John Baldacci announced the launch of InternHelpME.com. This effort which is being managed by the Maine State Chamber of Commerce is an attempt to provide opportunities for students and employers to work together.
Years ago, while studying business in college, I engaged in several internships. It proved valuable - upon graduation I launched a 20-year career with a Fortune 500 company. Today, young professionals are more apt to move around to different organizations throughout their careers and internships can offer an opportunity for them to first identify areas of interest.
Here are three experiences to illustrate the value of internships:
Lisa attended a college that required students complete one-month internships during their freshman and sophomore years and a semester-long internship during their junior year. Upon graduation, Lisa could identify the career track she wanted to pursue. Her two internships were quite different: one was in a public relations firm and the other was in an internal marketing department. These experiences gave her great perspective. When she accepted a position, she was able to offer her skills learned during her internships to an organization and employ knowledge gained from her marketing program.
John had an intensive, and just as challenging, academic experience. In his case, however, internships were not offered nor encouraged at his school. Upon graduation, he struggled with making connections for job possibilities. More importantly, he was not as sure about where he wanted to work. An internship experience could have helped him bridge those gaps considerably.
Meg knew she wanted to work within an organization, but was unsure which department would fit her skills. By interning with a small business, she learned about managing a small business, event planning and the human resource field. She had limited knowledge of these career options before starting the internship and her interests greatly expanded.
Hiring interns can be mutually beneficial for both the student and the organization - if done correctly. Here are some basics to keep in mind:
Plan Their Work
Interns are looking for meaningful work where they can grow their skills. Plan out the work of an intern in advance; instead of assigning things as they come up or dumping all undesirable work on them.
Start a mentoring program. Interns often need mentors during their experience. This gives a great opportunity for a leader in your company to be a mentor.
Get Important Projects Done
For many small businesses, there are not enough resources. Interns can assist in a project that is meaningful, yet may have been delayed due to a lack of resources.
Hire for the Future
Interns may turn into full-time employees after graduation. This translates into a trained-in-advance employee who can "hit the ground running."
Reward Their Value
Interns are not "free help." They are a valuable resource that can blossom into a quality, longer-term employee.
Seize Viral Branding Opportunities
Hiring interns spreads the word to students about career opportunities on a local level.