Summer internships are meant to give students the experience they will need to be successful when they enter the workplace. The best internship programs are thoughtfully planned and managed. Employees should be given a mentor for guidance and the opportunity to work on challenging projects that will help them to develop new skills.
In the SHRM Online article How to do Internships the Right Way, Sharon Beaudry, a former HR director and currently an assistant professor of management and program director at Oregon Institute of Technology says, “Make sure you help them develop soft and hard skills. Offer continuous feedback. Give them a regular orientation, and go over acceptable work hours, dress code and professional behavior.”
It’s important that organizations carefully select and instruct the managers that will oversee and mentor their interns. This will make or break the interns’ experience at your organization. It will also assist in developing new people managers within your organization. “Managing interns is a great assignment for an emerging supervisor," says Beaudry.
A former SHRM Public Affairs summer inter often emails to stay in touch and express her appreciation for all that she learned while working in the SHRM Public Affairs department.
In one of her emails she wrote: “I am using so many of the skills I learned interning at SHRM at my current position. We have a conference coming up and I can take what I learned to help the conference run smoothly. Thanks for all you taught me...” and in another… “I use so much of what I learned during my internship in my adult career.”
SHRM Public Affairs had a great employee for three months, and she gained valuable experience that is helping her to launch a career. Whether your summer interns eventually become full-time employees at your organization, or move on to other opportunities, this is what a successful summer internship program looks like. A win-win for everyone.
What are your interns working on this summer and how can you increase the ROI on your time and theirs?
Please join @shrmnextchat at 3 p.m. ET on July 5 for #Nextchat with the SHRM Summer interns and managers lead by Spencer Manners (@SMannersSHRM), Erica Szulc (@ericaszulc), and Amanda Tinkleman (@amandatinkleman), Ashlee Smith (@SHRMFoundation) and Vanessa Hill (@SHRMpress).
We welcome all employers and their summer interns to join us for a conversation about what makes for a successful summer intern program.
Q1. What should college students look for in a summer internship program? What questions should they ask during an interview?
Q2. As an employer, what do you look for in a summer intern and on what criteria do you evaluate candidates when they have little or no work experience?
Q3. If you’ve ever had a summer internship or have one now, what did you -- or are you finding -- most valuable to your professional skills development and workforce readiness preparation?
Q4. How does your organization onboard summer interns and how do you encourage them to be part of your organization?
Q5. How does your organization mentor, coach and manage the performance of summer interns?
Q6. What innovative activities, programs or projects do you offer summer interns to help them grow personally and professionally?
Q7. How are you integrating your summer internship program into your overall talent acquisition strategy?
Q8. What advice can you give other organizations as they develop, or work to improve, their summer intern programs?
Q9. What advice can you offer to students who will be looking for a summer internship in the future?