The balance between providing a worthwhile experience within the workplace, whilst also considering day-to-day operations and tasks is a fine one. Whilst employers have a real need for the more menial of tasks to be fulfilled to keep a company running, they realise that it’s also important to build an exciting internship program if they’re to attract the best recruits. What’s more, not all businesses are aware of how they can go about sourcing a temporary worker such as an intern, which notably goes on to also include those seeking work experience or a summer placement. In fact, many businesses that could truly benefit from internships and similar placements simply believe that they’re ineligible for such schemes.

In this blog, we look at each of these issues, and explain how your company can craft the perfect placement to boost both business, as well as provide an enlightening experience for the intern.

Internships: The many benefits for the business

The leading benefit of any internship programme is that it provides the ability to source, recruit and secure some of the best up-and-coming talent to the market; however, to truly find these candidates a business must first put together a programme that appeals above all others, including your competitors. We get onto this in a few minutes, but before then let’s inspect what further benefits an intern can offer:

Interns are able to:

  • Play an important role that allows your permanent staff members to work on other projects – projects that may not normally be possible during other times;
  • Help your business in harnessing new methodologies that they’ve learnt about on a practical level within their education;
  • Strengthen your connections with local colleges and universities – something that is important for continually recruiting the cream of the crop each academic year;
  • Build brand awareness around your business;
  • Organise community events and help to boost PR.

 The balance between experience and operations

Identifying core tasks for your intern

The tasks for your intern will largely depend upon your answering of the following questions:

  • What are you hoping to gain from your internship program?
  • Do you require an intern to assist with a specific project, or do you simply need them to fulfil day-to-day tasks?
  • What will the intern need to fulfil their tasks? Can you provide them with the resources that they need, including staff mentors, workspace and tools?

Considering academic and work experience needs

Beyond your needs, you also have to consider the needs of the student or person to be placed within your program. If you’re working with a school, college or university then the institution should be able to provide you with information as to what the students study and how this can be harnessed and developed within your workplace. If, on the other hand, you’re sourcing an intern who is an individual, seeking purely work experience, for example, then you’re far freer to decide on what you deem valuable experience. That said, communication is key to a successful placement, and discussing with the intern what they expect to gain from the placement can be just as beneficial to your business as it can to their experience.

How interns can offer innovation

All too often the role of someone on an internship or work experience placement can be an underestimated one; yet these temporary employees can be a real asset to a company, and more importantly can provide invaluable insight through a fresh pair of eyes. What’s more tasking your intern with changing your business for the better provides them with a real sense of purpose, and can run alongside tasks that they can fulfil within ordinary operations.

The ways in which this can be done will differ from industry to industry and from business to business, yet core tasks that interns can help with in this respect include:

  • Operational efficiencies – as intern may be able to identify ways in which your business can work smarter?
  • Fresh marketing strategies – an intern can provide time to research new marketing routes and may be able to study the ways in which your competitors are adopting digital marketing mediums.
  • Product or service ideas – reviewing your current product or service is a task that many companies overlook – often going for years without so much as even tweaking or slightly altering their product or service. An intern can be the ideal solution for this, and should be considered as an employee that boasts a relatively objective opinion.

The practical steps towards an internship placement

Considering which type of intern to recruit

Internships and work experience can span many differing institutions, including Year Eleven  School students, College and University students, Graduates, those who are looking to change careers and those who are simply seeking work experience – either sourced domestically from the UK or from overseas.

Who you aim to attract will very much depend on your business needs, your industry and the level of expertise required to fulfil a position within your company.

Choosing an intern supervisor and mentor

Supervisors and mentors play two differing roles within your internship programme, here’s a summary of the roles of each:

The supervisor: A supervisor is responsible for welcoming your intern to the business; they should provide all the practical guidance that the intern needs and outline the intern’s responsibilities and tasks.

The mentor: A mentor adopts more of an informal role within your programme, and can be considered the go-to person for day-to-day questions, guidance and support.

Providing an official internship offer

Whether you’re actively seeking and securing an individual intern, or are placing the available position on a university noticeboard, an internship offer should clearly set out all of the details of the position. This will include a work schedule, compensation being offered and overview of the position and your expectations.

Essential steps to welcome your intern

Welcoming your intern to your organisation should cover all of the following:

  • Working hours;
  • Dress code;
  • Day-to-day responsibilities;
  • Procedures as they relate to absenteeism;
  • Health and safety.

From here on in it is up to you, and those within your business, to truly deliver a great internship experience, whilst harnessing the skills and abilities that the individual brings into your company.