8 Tips For Setting Up An Internship Programme

8 Tips For Setting Up An Internship Programme

It’s no secret that skills development in South Africa is a top priority for many business owners and leaders around the nation who are concerned about youth unemployment. An internship programme is one of the ways business leaders like you, can offer a solution to this need effectively. In addition to work readiness programmes or graduate programmes, an internship programme provides graduates and students with the work experience they need to step into a promising career. An internship programme is a solution to bridging the gap between study and work experience

Through an internship recruitment strategy you will reduce your recruiting costs, train younger, more inexperienced employees and then possibly offer permanent employment to those who demonstrate potential and fit your company culture. 

A brief overview of some of the benefits of an internship programme

The benefits to a business of embracing an internship programme and intern hiring strategy are numerous:  

  1. You get to experience the intern working in the business first hand and recruit top talent from a group of interns.

  2. Different business units get to test the skills, competencies and knowledge of the interns as potential employees.

  3. You have the ability to measure output and determine the quality of work delivered by an intern.

  4. Unit leaders will identify strengths and further development areas for future training.

  5. Internship programmes allow one to determine how an intern works in teams, relates interpersonally and communicates with others in a work environment.

  6. A company will Increase employee retention through implementing successful internship programmes.

  7. Internship programmes allow the business or business unit to increase team capacity using  graduate skills, particularly in busy times.

  8. Internship programmes are an excellent opportunity for marketing your company through good word of mouth from young interns.

Internship programmes are not only beneficial to large organisations but also small and medium sized enterprises. 

Top tips for setting up a successful internship programme

What makes an internship programme successful? At the end of the day, there needs to be a value exchange between the company and the intern. Both parties need to benefit from the experience for it to be successful. Here are 8 tips to ensure you implement a successful internship programme with an even value exchange for both parties. 

Tip #1: Have a formal onboarding programme

An internship programme is a formal arrangement with a graduate, even though it is a fixed term contractual agreement. Set interns up for success with a slick onboarding process. 

Include them in meetings where your company culture is evident, such as team building activities, expose them to guidelines on professionalism and some of the outcomes you hope for young employees to achieve through the internship. This will give interns a formal start so that they know where they stand and can grab onto their work with both hands.

If your company does not have a formal graduate onboarding programme, talk to us. RecruitAGraduate provides formal onboarding programmes as one of our services. 

Tip #2: Tailor your graduate and internship hiring process

Depending on company resources, tailor your internship and graduate recruiting. Graduate recruitment requires handling a much larger volume of CV's as well as being able to ask the right questions of a person with little to no work experience.  Another option is for you to outsource your intern and graduate recruitment to a specialist partner like RecruitAGraduate.

Tip #3: Be specific about output measures

A successful internship programme requires an element of measurable work for the intern to complete during their time at your company. Look at measures that can be put in place such as data analysis tasks, record keeping, logistics, communication and problem solving tasks. 

Give interns specific and important projects that a group of interns can work on and will impact positively on the company. This will give the interns a sense of responsibility and pride in their work as opposed to doing menial tasks. These examples must be measurable and help you to assess the progress and growth of the interns thus adding value to the business and their career journey.

NB: With the right measures in place, you will run a successful internship programme that will contribute to your business growth, unemployment and skills development.

Tip #4: Look at the inherent and soft skills in an intern

Looking at the various soft skills and the inherent skills in an intern is an excellent way to see how they are growing professionally. Take note of the fresh ideas they are bringing to the organisation and how well they communicate with clients and fellow employees. These interpersonal and character-based skills are as important as their deliverables in numbers. Take time to notice how the intern is progressing and becoming a better professional. These skills will reveal the character of the intern and how easily they adjust and are willing to take on the job. 

Tip #5: Provide access to mentorship

For an intern to have room to grow, it’s important to give them access to the resources that will assist them. Ensure interns are set up with who they should contact if they have any questions or require assistance while on the job, other than their line manager. The right guidance and mentorship will give an inexperienced intern or graduate the support and confidence they need to thrive and deliver results.

Mentoring gives your permanent  employees a chance to gain valuable leadership experience by appointing them as mentors in the internship programme. It will give them a sense of ownership of the business development if an intern is hired permanently in future. 

Tip #6: Give the intern exposure to different jobs and departments in the company

Giving graduates experience in the different jobs and departments within a company gives them exposure to multiple aspects of the business. This exposure helps them to see what is of most interest, while you monitor their progress and success. 

Find out from interns and graduates, what their career goals are. In understanding the  direction that they want to move forward in their career, you will see where they have potential to fit into the company as a whole. 

Tip #7: Immerse the intern in the company culture

Every company has a unique culture and set of values that unites everyone in the organisation. Immerse the intern into the company culture as much as possible so that they feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. Expose them  to team meetings, social events and relevant training resources. Describe the culture in words. Exposing them to your company culture helps them to decide if the company is the type of place they want to work.

Tip #8: Intentionally communicate regularly

Checking in with your interns is a great way to hold them accountable, get to know them and it gives you the opportunity to share insights with them about the workplace. Give the intern feedback on their progress and development, and offer opportunities and resources to grow in their weaker areas. Schedule regular check-ins and conduct exit interviews once the term is completed.   

Investing in the life of a graduate or a student when it comes to their career journey is rewarding. When you open your company doors to graduate skills, you are investing in the future business leaders in our nation.

At RecruitAGraduate, we are passionate about providing meaningful work for younger generations and we believe that your business is an integral part of this life changing process. If you are wanting to hire interns and need a graduate intern hiring partner, choose RecruitAGraduate. We can assist a company with successfully setting up an onboarding program for graduates and interns. Contact us for more information today.


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