Tag Archives: interns

Building your Internship – Summary and Resources (Part 6 of 6)

We’ve made it, friends!  Six posts later, here we are. As promised, below is a summary of posts, along with some resources to help you down the road.

Part 1 – Laying the Foundation

  • Organizational goals for hosting interns?
  • Departmental goals for hosting interns?
  • Intern duties and learning objectives?
  • Required Intern qualifications?
  • Mentors/supervisors in each department hosting interns, and their goals?

Part 2 – Structure & Compensation

  • Where will the intern(s) work?
  • When will the intern(s) work?
  • How are we compensating the interns?

Part 3 – Recruiting your Superstar Interns

  • Job description
  • Where to post
  • What else can be done

Part 4 – Getting Started on the Right Foot

  • Prepare the Team
  • Prepare the Space
  • Welcome!
  • Help them get connected

Part 5 – Evaluating Performance & Concluding the Internship

  • Let them know measures for success
  • Ask for their feedback throughout the program
  • Hold an exit interview
  • Stay in touch with former interns

Resources

It is my sincere hope that this collection of posts has been helpful for you and your organization. But you definitely won’t want to stop here! Below are suggested resources I’ve shared:

  • US Department of Labor’s Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act – self-explanatory. Every employer hosting interns needs to read it, and those who are thinking about unpaid positions need to memorize it and recite it back 50 times. Okay, maybe not 50, but at least until you get the idea!
  • NACE  – the National Association of Colleges & Employers, the big daddy when it comes to guidelines, policies, and procedures. A wealth of information. Don’t miss their Postion Statement on US Internships, or their 15 Best Practices for Internship Programs.
  • MPACE – the Mountain Pacific Association of Colleges & Employers, a regional arm of NACE with mostly West Coast & Rocky Mountain members. There are multiple chapters of NACE, MPACE happens to be where I belong.
  • Intern Bridge – self-described as “the nation’s premier recruiting consulting and research firm.” I haven’t had as much exposure to InternBridge as the other organizations above, but the information & research I have seen from them has been helpful. They have eye-opening data on paid vs. unpaid internships and how the differences affect both employers and students.
  • Your local Career Center – Many universities have someone in a position like mine, handling employer relations. You may also see someone in an “internship coordinator” role. These people are a wealth of knowledge and can often share specifics about  your region, your industry, and even the major or student population on their particular campus. Don’t be shy! 
  • Small Business Trend’s “How to Make the Most of an Intern”, which has been my favorite article on this topic so far.

I’ll continue to keep you updated as I come across new resources. In the meantime, happy planning and keep in touch if I can be of further help!

-DBO

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Building your Internship – Getting Started on the Right Foot (Part 4 of 6)

In parts 1, 2 & 3, you determined your organization’s goals for the internship program, outlined the duties and requirements of your intern, clarified the structure of the internship position(s), decided how you will compensate your interns, and learned how to recruit interns. Today’s post will focus on the next steps, getting ready for their arrival and starting on the right foot.

Prepare the Team
Back in Part 1, you also determined the departments and the supervisors that would be working with the interns, and gave them the opportunity to establish goals. Now that the big day has arrived, everyone invested in your internship program should have a clear understand not only of the topics discussed in Part 1 (here’s a refresher, if you need it) but also how these topics will translate to a typical work day for the intern. This could take the shape of an outline, a handbook, a list, or even simply through conversations with one another.

Supervisors should be prepared to welcome the interns and offer clear, relevant expectations. I also recommend a review of this article by Small Business Trends, specifically Section A for “Authentically Mentor and Coach Your Intern.”

Prepare the Space
Ask yourself a quick question – where will the interns be physically located during their tenure?  If that space (and equipment ) is accessible for them starting on day one, they will immediately feel like they belong (and like their new employer is on top of things)!

Welcome!
Sounds simple enough, right?  Granted, bringing a new body into your work space can be stressful and even nerve-wracking, but I promise you that they are more nervous than you are. Take a moment to look them in the eye, shake their hand and let them know you’re happy they’re here (or that you’re glad to see them…or that you’re excited to work together. Whatever language is the most genuine for you).

Also, keep the rest of the team informed about their arrival. While not everyone will be working closely with the intern, they should at least know about the newcomer, and be prepared to introduce themselves as well. If their new cubicle buddy looks surprised to see them and clearly hasn’t tidied up their half of the desk, the intern will notice, and will likely not feel too good about it.

Help them get connected
The larger your team of interns, the more creative you can get in this area. Facebook and LinkedIn groups? Evening socials?  Weekend service days? Themed days in the office?  Book clubs? Coffee breaks?  The list of things you can schedule for the team is endless.

Coming up in Part 5: Evaluating Performance and Concluding the internship.

Building your Internship – Recruiting Superstar Interns (Part 3 of 6)

In parts 1 & 2, you determined your organization’s goals for the internship program, outlined the duties and requirements of your intern, clarified the structure of the internship position(s), and decided how you will compensate your interns. Today’s post will focus on the next steps, Recruiting Superstar Interns.

Disclaimer: This section will provide guidance for employers building their programs independently of a school/program. In the case that you are partnering with a school or academic department, you may find that there are requirements that you must consider while recruiting your students.

Job Description

A job description that’s on par with a full-time, professional opening will help attract a high-caliber pool of applicants.  Personally, I’m a fan of keeping things are straightforward as possible (no trendy language or exclamation points) though I understand that some organizations/cultures like to represent themselves with that sort of thing. Ultimately, it’s up to you. My main suggestion is to remember what it’s like to be a student without years of experience in a field – the clearer, the better. Some previous blog posts with specific details and recommendations are available here, here, and here.

At the very least, I recommend including Title, Descriptions of both Duties & the Organization, Qualifications, Compensation, Location, and Full-Time or Part-Time designation. UCI’s ZotLink also prompts employers to include a few other details, including duration, hours per week, and job function.

Where to post?

Most, if not all, colleges and universities have an online job board.  For example, here at UCI, we have ZotLink, which employers can use for free to post jobs, review resumes and sign-up for events.  By all means, get your posting up as soon as you are ready to begin recruitment. You never know what kind of response you’ll get. Some of you may hear from ideal candidates a few hours after posting.  If you are not committed to recruiting from a certain university, then be sure to get your posting out to as many schools as possible (note: many universities share software that allows you to post to multiple schools at once, for a fee).

Be sure to that you also include the job description on your company website, especially if you have a “Careers” page.  Students will often go straight from the posting to your company website to check things out, so you’ll want to be sure that the opportunity is present and consistent in both places.

What else can be done?

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of additional options for you to get the word out about your internship opportunities.  Now, some may require additional budget, but not all. Here are some further ideas, with ($) to indicate those that are likely require additional fees, which will vary depending on the school:

  • Establish a presence for the opportunity on Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter/etc.
  • Host information sessions on local college campuses ($)
  • Reach out to relevant student groups of interest about your opportunity. For example, UCI’s student organization directory is available to the public, and employers are welcome to search the listings for professionally oriented clubs.
  • Purchase additional advertising space on local campuses ($)
  • Do you have former interns, or other GenY employees willing to speak about their experiences? Post some testimonials on YouTube or on your company’s website
  • Schedule a visibility table in a high-traffic location at a local campus ($)
  • Participate in a Career Fair ($)
  • Make sure all your internal employees know about the opportunity – some may want to refer candidates

Whew!  Hopefully that lists helps you get started. Stayed tuned for Post #4: Hiring & On-Boarding, to help you plan what to do with the lucky few that get hired.  Side note: there will be a few days in between this post and the next, as I’ll be off campus for much of tomorrow & Friday, with our Winter Internship and Career Fair in between on Thursday.

Building your Internship – Structure & Compensation (Part 2 of 6)

Now that you’ve laid the foundation for your internship program, it’s time to move forward with setting it up . Today’s post will focus on (1.) Structure and (2.) Compensation.

Disclaimer: This section will provide strategies for employers building their programs independently of a school. If you are partnering with a school or academic department, you may find that there are requirements for how you structure your program/compensate your interns.

1. Key Set-up questions to ask in your organization: 

  • Where will the intern(s) work?
  • When will the intern(s) work?

The very nature of an internship program means that the intern’s learning and development should be central, so I recommend that you consider scheduling your intern’s hours on-site as much as possible. Having your intern working out of your physical space exposes them to your corporate culture and the behavior/attitudes of your other employees.  You will also have a chance to get to know him or her better, which will give you a better sense of how to proceed with assigning projects, evaluating, or even hiring them full-time. 

Scheduling can be tricky, as students who are in school will be juggling classes and other academic commitments, so you may want to take that into account before creating an exact schedule. That said, keep in mind that internships can be anywhere from a few hours per week to full-time, from one academic quarter, to a full year.  Whatever you decide, remember that a consistent in-office presence, and frequent interaction with supervisors and fellow employees gives the intern the opportunity to feel connected.

2. Key Compensation question to ask in your organization: 

  • How are we compensating the interns?

I’ll be sharing some additional resources later in the series, including more on this very topic. As you can tell, this is a meaty area so please consider this post to be the tip of the iceberg. We’ve also explored it on other parts of the blog already (here, for example).

Let’s look at it this way: It’s up to you and your organization to determine how you will be compensation your intern, not if. There are two avenues to consider, and anything else becomes legally questionable.

  • Paid: Just what it sounds like – the intern is earning monetary compensation for their work
  • For academic credit (also referred to as “unpaid”):  an academic institution or program is granting academic credit for the work the intern does related to their position in you organization.  Often, universities require additional class time and/or projects for the intern to complete to earn credit.

How do you know which one is right for you? Well, let’s take a look at one particular line from the Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act Fact sheet on unpaid internships.  This line relates to for-profit institutions, and says “The employer provides the training and derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern. Occasionally, the operations may actually be impeded.”

Yes, you read that correctly. I interpret that line to mean, if a for-profit organization has an intern performing any sort of work or labor that benefits the organization, it is not appropriate for the internship to be unpaid. So, I encourage any business hosting interns to pay them. Pay can be hourly, monthly, or even in the form of a stipend, and it’s up to your organization to determine what’s best and right for you.

For organizations, such as non-profits, that don’t have the resources to pay, know that you will have some legwork to do in order to ensure that interns are instead receiving academic credit. It is not enough to post the internship with “Credit” in the salary column. You must work with a school to ensure that your position qualifies and that they are in fact earning those academic units. Every university (and sometimes, as in the case of UCI, different programs within the university) has a different way of handling internships for credit. Yes, it could mean more work for you, but that is what it takes to make sure you don’t end up in a legal gray area…and no one wants that! 

Let’s recap…The questions pertaining to set-up that you should now be asking your organization are:

  • Where will the interns be working?
  • When will the interns be working?
  • How are we compensation the interns?

Okay, great!  Moving along, stay tuned for Post 3…Recruiting!

Building your Internship – Laying the Foundation (Part 1 of 6)

So, you’re interested in bringing one or more interns into your organization – great idea!  Let’s talk about that…

First off, I’d like to point out two outside resources with which familiarizing yourself is imperative. NACE, or the National Association of Colleges & Employers, and their position on interships, along with the DOL Fact Sheet on Internships.  You’ll find that many guidelines relate to unpaid internships, but I recommend that you consider them universal. Your internship will be well-structured, fair, and ahead of the curve in a number of areas. You will also notice that both have a permanent spot in “Employer Resources” here on this blog, should you ever need to know where to find them. 

After you’ve reviewed the NACE website and the DOL guidelines, I suggest that everyone in your organization who has an investment in your future intern(s) discuss the following areas:

  1. Organizational goals for hosting interns
  2. Departmental goals for hosting interns
  3. Intern duties and learning objectives
  4. Required Intern qualifications

And lastly,

    5. Assign mentors/supervisors in each department hosting interns, and allow mentors/supervisors to establish goals.

You can nail down these topics in a single meeting, in a series of meetings, over email, slowly over time, or any other way that you see fit for your organization. However you decide to approach these topics, the more thorough you are at this stage, the better off you will be in the long run.

It’s also at this stage where opportunities to measure success (however your organization defines it) will become clearer. We’ll touch on that in Part 5!

Coming up next: Part 2 – Setting up Your Program

Until next time,

DBO

The internship opportunity I’m offering is unpaid, so that means you’re given my intern credit, right? (FAQs, 5.0)

This question represents the tip of a very, very large iceberg. For the sake of our readers, I’m going to cover some basics in this post, but I can promise that this isn’t the last time we’ll discuss paid vs. unpaid interns on this blog (anyone else still following the Black Swan case?)

For the most part, I encourage employers to seriously consider paying their interns.  Internbridge has some great data available on all the reasons why paying interns usually leads to a more positive and successful experience for both the student and the employer. Some of it is really eye-opening. And remember, payment doesn’t have to be hourly – sometimes a stipend or a project-based wage can be a good fit, too.

That said, I understand that it’s not realistic for every company, non-profit, or start-up that needs/wants interns to have the budget to pay them. However, it’s imperative that the employer takes ownership over facilitating some kind compensation for the student.  It’s not enough to just declare that the student can get credit for the internship…it’s actually not up to you. If you want your intern to get credit, you must ensure that your opportunity actually will fit their university’s requirements.

Take UCI, for example. At the Career Center, we love to see students pursuing internship opportunities. Love, love, love it. Though, we are not an academic unit, and we can’t offer credit simply because you hire them.  We will, however, help you get in touch with one of our academic departments that will consider your opportunity to see if is appropriate to enroll the student in a credit-based program that coincides with their role at your organization. (Examples of UCI programs offering credit for internship opportunities are available here.)

That’s right…your opportunity has to be reviewed by an academic department to ensure that the student is doing work the meets set criteria, which varies from department to department. 

The good news is, if an academic unit feels it’s appropriate to grant credit to your interns, the university will help facilitate it. Your involvement will vary depending on the program in which your student is enrolled.  

Yes, it can take time to get in touch with the right folks and follow the right steps to give the intern credit. Though, the steps aren’t difficult, they are there to help our students (and you).  Isn’t that what internships are all about?

Stay tuned for more on this down the road.

Have a great week!

-DBO

How do I reach out to more students/alumni about my job opportunity? (FAQs, Part 3.0)

What a good question, I’m so glad you asked! For the sake of conversation, let’s assume that you have already posted on ZotLink when you’re asking this.

The good news is, the Career Center offers a number of opportunities and recommendations to help you in this area. While some of our services do have various charges attached (reminder: ZotLink is not one of them), there are some things employers can do with a $0 budget to help your recruitment. Let’s begin with those, shall we? 

  • Use resume books
    When employers have a position available, they are welcome to request access to UCI resume books to actively view and search resumes of students (who have opted into the collection). Interested employers can contact me for questions and access at dena.o [at] uci.edu.
  • Volunteer with the Career Center
    We love our employer volunteers! There are opportunities available throughout the year for employers to come speak on a panel, perform resume reviews, offer mock interviews, etc. All of these opportunities allow for direct interaction with students which, as we all know, can help with recruitment efforts. Volunteer opportunities do tend to be in high demand by our employer friends, so if this is an area in which you are interested, it’s best to let me or one of my colleages know, and we can go over what we’re looking for with you. Space is limited, and we also like to be clear on the kind of information you’re providing to ensure that it doesn’t conflict with our values/mission.
  • Reach out to student orgs
    UCI Student Organizations are listed online here, and the site allows viewers to look up clubs and contacts. It is free for employers to find student groups that may be interested in their organization (there are hundreds of clubs, dozens of which have a professional focus).

That said, my colleagues and I are here to ensure that you are maximizing your efforts (and, not paying for things that you don’t need). Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you are interested in any of the above options: dena.o [at] uci.edu

On that note, Happy Friday, all! Enjoy your weekend!

-DBO