Do you use summer internships at your company?

24 05 2006

In Mexico and the USA, internships are not an important part of the business culture or human resources strategy as compared to Europe.  The “dual education” system has not yet caught on in the Americas.

In Mexico the “part-time” job is virtually non-existent for most high school and college students because the position becomes “full time”, filled by adults who have not had the benefit or access to higher education.  Students who are going on to universities, emerge from the education system with very little practical work experience. 

In the USA, companies look at interns as expensive, or not economically viable, or as a method to evaluate potential candidates for the company after graduation.  Very few, if any businesses look at internships a method to increase and share knowledge for the common good, and to inject new ideas and enthusiasm into an existing structure.

So here is where I point your attention to the following…..why not actively seek and promote internships at your company?  It will provide “real world” training for these people.  I’m sure you can think of some activities with a clear objective for a 6 or 8 week project, that could be economically viable or close to it, make sure they must interact with knowledgeable employees, and let the entire company benefit from their ideas and enthusiasm while at the same time offering some structured business training and a look at how the world really works.

If you are questioning….”why me”…”why should I pay for training someone who won’t be around a long time”….”what’s in it for me”….think about the following:

Young people have different and new ideas that your people are not using or thinking about.  They also have terribly impractical and unrealistic ideas that your organization can banish and eliminate from their thinking processes.

The interaction between theoretical and practical applications provokes questions about how to do business….and why…for everyone involved.

Established workers can provide information that will greatly increase the productivity and shorten the learning curves on “real life organizations” for the interns

Your company can interview and pick the “best and the brightest”, who knows perhaps when they graduate they will come knocking on the door again

You might make the world a better place to live

Good public relations (OK, so greed is a motivator too).

Outline for Internship Program

  1. Identify specific objectives or projects within your company that can be completed by high school and college students in 6 to 8 weeks. 
  2. Actively promote the internship idea with local high schools and universities, your suppliers and customers.  Let them understand what the program is, and let them suggest possible candidates.
  3. Map out the process required to meet the objective, and identify the people in your organization (or outside) that must provide information and interact with them.
  4. Have a company meeting with these people, explaining the goals of the project, and the reason for bringing in interns.
  5. Hire.
  6. Provide and explain the tools, the project and the expected outcome. 
  7. Evaluate the project in 3-4 weeks with the interns, make modifications as required.
  8. 7-8 weeks.  Final review of the project, the interns, feedback, what worked, what didn’t and why.
  9. Do it again next year.

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