Giving back to your community through an internship program
There is no question that internships are of great benefit to both employers and students. Students get first-hand practical knowledge in their area of study in a professional setting and employers have a low risk and low cost opportunity to recruit and evaluate prospective employees. And while the potential benefits to both students and organizations are powerful incentives to establish an internship program, there is a major benefit that is often overlooked resulting from this relationship: the positive impact on the community. In many respects, internship programs provide communities with a vehicle to improve their ability to manage and compete in an increasingly global economic environment. Consider the following ways internship programs can potentially give back to the local community:
Decreasing the “Brain Drain”: An internship program can significantly influence an intern’s perspective of a given community or region. Internship programs can help encourage local college graduates to stay within their community or region after graduation; hence, decreasing the chances of valuable talent leaving the area and positively impacting the local economy.
Serving as a Workforce “Sounding Board”: There is sometimes a “disconnect” between education and business. By hiring interns from local colleges and universities, internship programs serve as a channel for educational institutions to assure academic programs are being responsive to the needs of industry. Interns serve as valuable ambassadors of information back to their colleges.
Serving as a Business/Community Link: Internship programs provide a vital bridge between business, education, and the community. Local communities can potentially thrive from an infusion of motivated and skilled workers that also become involved members of society. In addition, communities can possibly benefit from exposure to new ideas that permeate from projects, research, or other internship program activities.
Building College Networks: Given that employers will most likely recruit interns from various colleges in the area, internship programs provide a foundation to build worthwhile college networks or collaboratives. Network opportunities among area colleges anchored by a common employer can strengthen local economic development initiatives.
Creating Partnership and Research Opportunities: Internship programs provide an opportunity for organizations to support an essential local issue or project. By assigning interns to these types of initiatives, organizations provide local communities much needed resources, time, and inventiveness.
Enhancing School Reputations: A high-caliber internship program can help support local college and university recruitment efforts. Internship programs can serve as a major factor in attracting potential college students to the local area, particularly if a college is challenged by dwindling enrollment.