How To Grow Your Internship Program

By August 27, 2013

So you finally took the advice of many and hired an intern, and things are looking better than ever. It may be due to a wave of funding, increased profits, or even the added manpower of your stellar intern hire on your bottom line. Regardless, it’s finally time for your internship program to grow.

There’s no one-size-fits-all mold for expanding your internship program, but bringing on more students often means offering up more enticing projects and perks. Before you start your expansion process, consider the following elements for taking your internship program to new heights and attracting more talented students:

Offer (Better) Compensation

If you’re a for-profit company, not paying your interns could land you an ugly lawsuit rife with negative press. Yet, many employers still struggle to offer paid internships.

One of the first and most crucial steps to growing your internship program starts with providing your interns with more than just the minimum required amount of compensation. Consider compensating your interns with at least $12.00/hour depending on the role and present the chance for competitive compensation as a part of your internship job description.

You can also supplement your monetary compensation in a variety of other ways, including providing networking opportunities for your interns, developing a mentorship program in conjunction with your internship program, or offer the chance to take a class and learn new skills.

Provide Bigger, Better Projects

According to the “State of the Internship,” students reported that gaining experience and building a portfolio is the most important part of an internship. Kick your internship program to the next level by offering potential interns the chance to partake in exciting and immersive experiences.

This could mean hands-on experience in fine-tuning a new app you’ve got in the works or undertaking several large-scale graphic design projects. Take a look at what you’re currently offering your interns in terms of projects and see how you can give them more.

Build Your Online Presence

Growing your internship program doesn’t always mean adding on extras — you may just need to increase your visibility to ensure you’re drawing the attention of the best and brightest students looking to enter your industry.

What are you doing to get noticed online? Take to social media to begin building your employer brand. Go beyond posting your internship job listings by engaging in conversation with potential candidates, holding Google Hangout Q&A sessions, and posting relevant news and trends.

Ramp Up Your Recruitment Efforts

Intern recruitment may not be on the top of your to-do list if your internship program is small. But taking steps toward its growth requires smart recruiting efforts.

Consider reaching out directly to colleges and universities in your area to gain access to talented students looking to gain experience in your industry. Attending career fairs, participating in speaking engagements, and lending advice to soon-to-be graduates will keep you top of mind as a trusted employer.

Offer More Training

Give your interns access to the on-the-job training that’s necessary for long-term success in your industry. According to the Accenture 2013 Graduate Employment Survey, nearly two-thirds of graduates say they will need more training to land their desired job.

Growing your internship program should include offering students the chance to be trained in a variety of different areas, tools, and software to give them a leg up above the competition when they begin their entry-level job search. And you never know, putting the effort into expertly training your candidates may make them the perfect post-internship hires.

Ask Your Interns

Feedback is an essential ingredient for the growth of your internship program. Ask your current and previous interns what they loved about their internship and what they think can be improved. For example, hold exit interviews for all of your interns and use their responses to help develop a stronger internship program that draws in top students.

Go Virtual

For interns, flexibility matters. In fact the “State of the Internship” report also found that students said being allowed to work from a coffee shop just one day a week dramatically increases their likelihood of applying for an internship. Give your internship program a boost by offering virtual internship opportunities or allowing interns to telecommute to meet their busy schedules.

When it comes to expanding your internship program, these are key ways to improve your offerings and draw in talented students.

How do you plan to expand your internship program?


About the Author:

Ashley Mosley is a Community Engagement Manager of InternMatch, an online platform connecting the best intern candidates and employers. Connect with Ashley and InternMatch on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

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