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Creating Your Internship Program

Before beginning an internship program at your business or organization, consider the following tips and sample templates to help in this process.

Write a Plan for the Internship Opportunity

Consider:

  • What will the intern do?
  • What qualifications will you seek in an intern?
  • Who will be the intern’s primary supervisor?
  • Will you pay the intern?
  • Where will you put the intern?
  • When will the internship take place?
  • Do you want to plan a program beyond the work the intern will do, such as professional development, networking, or training opportunities?

Write a description of the internship opportunity that clearly describes the duties and expectations.

Setting Goals and Policies for the Internship Program
  • What does your organization hope to gain from your internship program?
  • How does the internship align with your organization’s overall strategy?
  • Do you want an intern for a specific project or would you rather give them a taste of everything your organization does?
  • How many interns are needed?
  • In what time periods are interns needed? Summer (May-August), fall (September-December), or spring (January-April)?
Recruit a Qualified Intern and Openly Discuss Expectations
  • Begin your recruitment three to four months before you want the intern to begin. The earlier you begin, the more access you will have to the most competitive candidates.
  • Utilize any University of Richmond alumni at your organization to reach out and brand your program.
  • Visit campus and host an information session, or speak to a class or an on-campus organization affiliated to your industry (i.e. Accounting Club).
  • Arrange interviews in a timely manner, typically three to five days after the application deadline. You may use the phone or Skype, or conduct interviews on campus or at your office.
  • Choose your interns just as carefully as you would choose permanent employees. Up to 45 percent of students stay on as full-time employees after graduation.
  • Notify candidates as to their status.
Sample internship postings:
Manage the Intern's Work and Development
  • Be sure to set expectations prior to the first day—what time should your intern arrive, where should they go, how should they dress?
  • Orient your intern to the workplace. Give an overview of your organization, introduce him or her to co-workers, and give a tour of the facilities. Explain who does what and what your intern’s responsibilities will be. Discuss how he or she will be evaluated.
  • Give the intern the resources to be successful. Assign a desk with a computer and telephone. Show where supplies are kept and designate who can be asked questions.
  • Supervise and mentor the intern. Don’t feel like you need to watch every move, but daily check-ins at first can avert problems later. Give detailed explanations, making sure he or she understands the task at hand and the associated timeline. Ask what questions your intern has. Making time to learn about his or her career goals, and sharing your own career journey will often add depth to your relationship.
  • Give your intern feedback. Your intern does not know if he or she is meeting your expectations without your specific, constructive feedback. Make a regular time to review the work and guide the intern according to your expectations. Whether this is formal or informal is a matter of personal preference.
Conduct Evaluations to Improve Your Program
  • Evaluations at the end of the internship will provide your organization and your intern with helpful feedback. Be sure to ask your intern site evaluation questions related to your internship program goals so you know whether you have been successful in these areas.
  • You may also want to conduct an in-person exit interview to gather more qualitative data about your intern’s experience.
  • In addition to these measures, many internship programs calculate their “conversion rate,” that is the number of interns who are offered and accept full-time positions with your organization following graduation.