Suggestions on Succesful Internships
- Start early. The internship position description should be thorough and thoughtful. Begin planning as soon as possible and ensure the student has projects at the beginning AND end of the internship.
- Be realistic. Students should not take on more than they can handle in one semester (e.g., building a website) nor should they be undervalued and handed mostly administrative work. Most students intern without pay, meaning they need to be compensated with quality work experience, and for many, this is their first step into the professional world.
- State expectations up front. Have an honest conversation with the student at the start of an internship about their responsibilities, hours, etc. to avoid future miscommunications.
- Ensure a good fit. When working with departments, talk at length with the faculty or staff coordinating internships to ensure the student's needs match the needs of your organization. Every program must fulfill specific requirements, so be certain it's a good match.
- Tackle problems at the onset. Don't wait until the end of the semester to address an issue. The faculty and staff in charge of the program are there to support you and resolve problems when they start. Waiting until the end of the internship not only results in a negative result for your agency but also for the student's transcript and experience.
- Engage students in the mission. GenY students need to feel connected to your organization's mission and vision to stay motivated. In the long run these individuals could become your next employees, volunteers and advertisers. Do not underestimate the benefits of mentoring students.