At its most basic level an internship programme could be said to be:
An internship programme is a planned work experience opportunity offered by an employer. There should be no expectation of employment after completing the programme/ experience. People in these roles are called interns. The intern role is to work at an organisation for a fixed, limited period of time. Interns are usually undergraduates or post graduates. Most internships last for any length of time between 1 week and 12 months. 3-12 months being the most common.
The Random House Dictionary defines internship as:
“Any official or formal program to provide practical experience for beginners in an occupation or profession.”
Gaining a Valuable Internship Experience
An internship can offer inexperienced people the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in a sector or industry.
The idea being to allow people to explore how to apply their studies in the world of business.
Having a period of experience post education can be valuable to future employers.
Who are Interns?
In the past interns have been recent leavers of university who have not yet secured permanent or other training roles. Typically they are graduates.
What is an internship? What do Interns do on an Internship Programme?
Interns are usually people in short term roles. Typically 3-12 months, but may be shorter times too. Good internships are not just focused on doing a straightforward job, but provide structured and additional training to help the transition from academia to the workplace.
Why do an Internship Programme?
Many employers have a requirement of potential employees having previous experience in the sector or industry. We all need to start somewhere.
The internship should provide both experience of a particular sector, a range of activities, not one narrow role, and additional skills and training. As most internships are offered by larger firms, it provides the internee with the opportunity to apply for internal roles, often before these roles are promoted to the outside world.
Having a strong employer brand on your CV or Resume is valuable to young professionals. It can also provide a valuable work based reference.
A Survey of U.S. employers by NACE in 2009 with interns found that 67% of those interns were given job offers after their terms were complete.
Salaries whilst on an Internship Programme
There is no standardisation. Unfortunately, an internship may be paid or, unpaid. Occasionally only out of pocket expenses are provided. In the UK all internships should be paid at least the national minimum wage.
Paid Internship Programmes
Paid internships are common in sectors where there is under supply of talented people. These include: engineering, legal firms, accounting, finance, technology and science based industries.
Unpaid Internship Programmes
Are often in sectors where there is an oversupply of talent to the sector. As a result some employers try to offer experiences without remuneration.
Sadly, in many situations these roles are basically unpaid work. In the UK & EU there are minimum wage expectations. But when competition for even the slightest work experience is fierce, who will complain?
See the UK gov website for clarification https://www.gov.uk/employment-rights-for-interns
In short, if you are just doing a job that others could do with littles structured training – you should be paid!
What makes a great Internship Programme?
The CIPD produced a guide for employers, and this outlines some good practice for potential interns to look out for – http://www.cipd.co.uk/hr-resources/guides/internships-employers-guide.aspx
Having structure, a nominated mentor or guide. A published training plan on your commencement of the programme. Unless part of an academic project, and other rare situations, a good internship should cover several areas of the sector. In most industries there are several roles that could be of interest or value. A good internship will offer more than one experience.
Whilst in an internship you are there to add value. But at the same time you are not there to be a slave or underpaid worker. Therefore the relationship should be win – win.
According to https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/233505 the following 5 things make a great internship program:
- Define the role. Make sure all parties understand what is and is not expected.
- Train properly. Provide a comprehensive induction. Provide systems training if needed. Train them in your policies and procedures
- Appoint a mentor or supervisor. They will need to have someone who is available to answer questions and provide feedback.
- Stay compliant. Ensure that what you offer complies with legislation and sector requirements. Not just the external stuff, but that actions the intern takes will not harm your brand.
- Conduct regular reviews. There is no point offering an internship if no progress reviews take place.
15 Best Practices for Internship Programmes
In addition, NACE provide these 15 Best Practices for Internship Programs – http://www.naceweb.org/internships/15-best-practices.aspx
- Intern Best Practice #1: Provide interns with real work assignments
- Intern Best Practice #2: Hold inductions/ orientations for all involved
- Intern Best Practice #3: Provide interns with a handbook and/or website
- Intern Best Practice #4: Provide housing and relocation assistance
- Intern Best Practice #5: Offer scholarships
- Intern Best Practice #6: Offer flex-time and/or other unusual work arrangements
- Intern Best Practice #7: Have an intern manager
- Intern Best Practice #8: Encourage team involvement
- Intern Best Practice #9: Invite career centre staff and faculty to visit interns on site
- Intern Best Practice #10: Hold new-hire panels
- Intern Best Practice #11: Bring in speakers from your company’s executive ranks
- Intern Best Practice #12: Offer training/encourage outside classes
- Intern Best Practice #13: Conduct focus groups/surveys
- Intern Best Practice #14: Showcase intern work through presentations/ expo
- Intern Best Practice #15: Conduct exit interviews
– See more at: http://www.naceweb.org/internships/15-best-practices.aspx#sthash.nHH2Drf7.dpuf
In summary what makes a great internship programme is one which provides the transfer knowledge and skills required to become successful in a specific field.
Should you consider Doing One or More Internships?
While experience of one environment is great. Yet in reality even in the same industry, different companies are very different cultures and experiences. You can learn more doing more than one internship with different companies.
Whilst we would not advocate doing 2 or more 12 twelve month internships. If your internship is 3 months, then a second of 3 months in a different context can be really helpful.
What makes a great intern?
Do your bit by being a great intern
- Tip #1: Take Initiative.
- Tip #2: Work Hard.
- Tip #3: Be Humble.
- Tip# 4: Under Promise and Over Deliver.
- Tip#5: Be Quick to Listen and Slow to Speak.
- Tip #6: Treat Everyone Equally.
- Tip #7: Never Feel Inferior.
- Tip #8: Ask a Lot of Questions.
- Tip #9: Be Observant.
- Tip #10: Take Advice.
Source – http://www.internships.com/eyeoftheintern/onthejob/etiquette-onthejob/successful-intern-tips/
Hubspot give their list as
1) Be a Go-Getter
2) Prove Your Smarts
3) Push Yourself
4) But Know When to Say No
5) Be a Team Player
6) Network Like It’s Your (Second) Job
7) And Always Remember the Basics
Internships that are well run, and aim to help the person as well as the organisation are powerful business development strategies . They are also good for building brand awareness and reputation. In addition, good internship programmes can help attract the right talent for the right reasons.
For people that cannot get a professional training placement or a salaried role in the industry of their choice straight out of university, an internship is a great way to develop industry awareness and add work experience to the CV.
Footnote – in addition unpaid internships are illegal in the UK
Good employers will pay and provide a structured training experience. If they don’t – walk away!
What is an internship programme? Internships that are well run, and aim to help the person as well as the organisation are powerful business development strategies . They are also good for building brand awareness and reputation. In addition, good internship programmes can help attract the right talent for the right reasons.