The Results Are In: 54% of Companies Fully Integrate Interns into Their Team

In July, we asked our readers how their companies use their summer interns and according to the results, more than half say they fully integrate them into their team for real hands-on experience. Another 21% said they don’t have summer interns; 10% said their interns are relegated to tasks like filing and answering phones; and nearly 9% use their interns to pick up the slack from their busy teams. Interestingly, 3% of respondents said they don’t know what their interns do all day.

Some respondents to the poll selected “other” and chose to enter their own thoughts on the question. A few common responses include: handling special projects, serving as backup to full-time staff, and rotating them throughout the company to gain more well-rounded experience.

Summer internships are a valuable opportunity for students, recent grads, and young professionals and should be thought of as a partnership. Interns are looking for tangible experience that will help them transition into a career, while businesses not only get some extra help, they also get the inside scoop on up and coming talent.

So, it’s in both parties’ best interest to make the most of the experience. Here few general tips to keep in mind when developing an internship program.

Let them get their feet wet
Interns want experience. It’s what will give them the leg up when they get out into the real world. In fact, according to a study by Southwestern University’s Office of Career Services, “Those who reported completing one internship during their time at Southwestern University were 13% more likely to find full-time employment over those that did not.” So, it’s important to ensure your interns get opportunities to be a part of the team and contribute to actual projects. It also allows you to get an idea of how they approach hard work and the way they react in certain working environments – important information to know if you are considering offering them a full-time position.

Set expectations for success
Before taking on an intern, it’s important to build a structured program of learning activities they will participate in during their time with your company. Just like your full-time employees have performance expectations, interns should have expectations for success – or minimum requirements for completion of their internship. Discuss key accomplishments that should be achieved during their time with your company, and check in on their progress regularly. You’ll gain valuable insight into an up and coming professional you may want to keep your eye on. Statistics from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), show that 64.8% of interns were made full-time offers of employment in 2013. So, an internship may very well be where you find your next star employee.

Provide a letter of recommendation
At the end of an internship, your interns hope to be a few steps closer to starting a successful career. If they worked hard and showed promise as a future professional, provide them with a letter of recommendation praising their work ethic and highlighting their strengths. Your interns will appreciate any help they can get as they enter a very competitive workforce. Or, if you decide that they’re just too good to let go – offer them a job on the spot. In fact, according to the NACE study, “Employees who completed an internship or co-op program with their employer are more likely to be with the company at both the one-year and five-year retention benchmarks.”

What other tips do you have for building a strong internship program? Let us know in the comments section below.

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