Our experience shows that these internships work well under certain conditions:
- Buy-in from the most senior people in the organisation – unless you have this and someone at the top champions this, you’ll find it difficult to maintain the momentum.
- A recruitment process – your internship will work well if you run a formal recruitment process. We recommend choosing candidates who ineterst you (or who choose you), inviting them for a formal interview or other formal approaches to recruitment. Seeing them in the flesh is better than a phone interview. If you want to see a lot of candidates before making a decision, why not run an open evening or an assessment centre?
- Real, challenging work for an intern to do – have tasks and deadlines involving real work that needs doing. Whilst we appreciate the repetitive nature of some work, a variety of work is important. The focus must balance creating value for you whilst maintaining the development of skills and experience for the intern.
- Proper, regular management supervision – the intern needs to be managed properly: work needs to be reviewed, errors corrected. We advise that you manage your intern in the same way as you would manage a new recruit.
- Guidance and supervision from a professional in the discipline – you should assume nothing other than your intern will not know how to do much: that’s the point of the experience. What they will have (and you will have interviewed for this) is bucketloads of energy, passion and enthusiasm. So – make sure that the person managing the intern has the skills and capability you want to see in the intern. What this shows is you cannot expect an intern to come and do work you cannot do yourself.
- Somewhere for the intern to sit – deskspace – your intern needs to be at your site and feel like they are part of the business.
- Kit for the intern to use – don’t assume that your intern will definitely have a machine to bring with them, and you may want to think about having a machine they can use. Also consider the wisdom of an intern accessing material on a machine that you have no control over.
- Training and development in the tasks that you want the intern to be proficient in – without proper training, it may be difficult for you intern to develop the skills you would want in them – and that will mean they cannot provide any value to you.