Establishing an Effective Internship Program

Internship programs are mutually beneficial to an organization and a student. The needs of an organization are met through the valuable assistance of the student intern, and the intern gets the opportunity to gain real-life work experience that could help them land a job or begin a career.

All of the tips below can help you successfully develop and implement an internship program in your workplace.

An Internship Program Should Meet These Criteria

  • Provide a valuable learning experience for the intern.
  • Allow students to work a significant amount of time (10-40 hours/week), with the beginning and end dates clearly stated before the intern starts the position.
  • Interns should have a substantial level of responsibility.
  • The organization should have an on-site mentor for the intern (usually the supervisor).
  • Interns should be encouraged to initiate projects, ask questions, absorb information, and provide feedback.
  • The organization should have a clear written agreement with the intern about expectations, responsibilities, evaluation, resources, learning goals, supervision, and work schedule.

Use This Checklist to Establish a Successful Internship Program

  1. Conduct an Internal Audit
    • Can you provide meaningful work assignments?
    • Are you prepared and able to invest time in interns?
    • Is a staff person available to supervise the interns?
    • Can you provide financial support to the interns? (wages, stipends, travel and parking reimbursements)
    • Do you have adequate office space and equipment for interns? (computer, telephone, desk)
  2. Develop a Description of the Internship
    • Provide an accurate overview of the internship's responsibilities, work assignments, and time frame.
    • Clearly outline expected outcomes.
  3. Select the Intern Supervisor
    • Does this person have time to supervise?
    • Is the potential supervisor committed to and capable of developing student interns?
  4. Post the Position on GoldPASS
    • Review applications/resumes.
    • Interview and select your new intern(s).
  5. Orient and Supervise the Interns
    • Share the organization's mission statement and goals with interns. Provide them with a tour of the facilities and information on policies and procedures, formal and informal. Introduce interns to all staff with whom they will be working.
    • Arrange for training, as necessary, with computer programs, telephone systems, copy and fax machines, or other equipment the interns will be using.
    • Provide interns with information regarding appropriate work attire and behavior.
    • Offer directions on the specifics of work assignments.
    • Include the interns in staff meetings when appropriate. Assist interns in arranging informational interviews with colleagues in other departments or offices.
    • Meet with interns on a regular basis to answer questions and to provide feedback.
  6. Seek and Provide Feedback
    • Ask the supervisor to write recommendations for the interns if appropriate.
    • Take interns to lunch on their last day. Discuss their experience with your organization.
    • Assess your internship program. Make adjustments as necessary.

Other Internship Resources