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Five steps to developing an internship program:

STEP 1:  Set goals and policies for your organization’s internship program.

Some points to consider:

  • What is the main goal of your company’s internship program? 
  • Who will supervise and mentor the intern? 
  • How will you compensate the intern? 

Interns should be fairly compensated for their contributions to your business.

The United States Department of Labor (USDOL) Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which applies to all for-profit and non-profit companies that have at least two employees directly engaged in interstate commerce and annual sales of at least $500,000.00, severely restricts an employer’s ability to use unpaid interns or trainees. It does not limit an employer’s ability to hire paid interns.

STEP 2: Write a plan and a job description for the internship opportunity.

The internship plan should include goals, timelines and a general description of the project which will become the agreed upon work plan.  Some internship experiences are specific to a department or position while others are considered a “floating” internship.  The job description will outline the skill sets needed to fill the responsibilities of the position and will outline the general requirements for the ideal candidate.

STEP 3:  Recruit and hire qualified interns.

Give yourself enough lead time for applicants to apply and for you to screen and interview candidates.

STEP 4:  Manage the internship experience.

  • Provide an orientation.  Interns benefit from an orientation just as anyone new to your organization would. 
  • Give your intern the resources needed to do the job.
  • Monitor the intern’s progress.
  • Evaluate the intern’s progress periodically and give feedback.

STEP 5:  Conduct exit interviews and evaluations.

Looking at the goals that were established in the first step how was the internship experience for the intern and for your organization?