Posts tagged ‘internships’

Q. How can I help our student interns document their success at their internships?

by the Intern Coach

A. Your interns are most fortunate to have an employer who wants to make sure that they receive proper documentation for their hard work on your company’s behalf.  Such tangible proof of performance will strengthen their resumes and provide additional material for their portfolios. Here’s how to provide that documentation:

  • Make sure that the intern supervisor fills out the final evaluation form, which is usually provided by your intern’s school. The student should receive a copy of the final evaluation form as well as the school. If the intern has performed well, the supervisor should also write a letter of recommendation, complimenting the student on his/her work, on the company letterhead.
  • If the intern supervisor has written weekly evaluations that are positive, you might want to make copies of those evaluations and present them in a folder to your student intern, so he/she can use them to get other internships or positions.
  • Do give your intern fresh copies of every item on which he or she has worked. Your student intern may have contributed to a report or document that will not be finalized until after the internship is over. When that report or document appears, send it to the intern with a thank you note, which your intern could use to get future internships or jobs.  You could also add their names as authors or contributors to the documents or reports if their participation warrants such recognition. 
  • Consider asking other company employees with whom your student intern has worked closely to write a recommendation for the intern, too. If your intern has been part of a team, perhaps the team leader would be willing to write a recommendation for the intern. Or if your student has moved around to different departments, you could ask the various department heads to write recommendations for the intern.
  • Offer to help your student intern collate these materials into a professional presentation. You might have a handsome company binder or folder that you could give to the intern. Ask one of your design-oriented staff to help organize the binder for your student intern. If your company is not well known, you might want to add some company information into the binder to help your student intern impress other potential internship organizations by his/her affiliation with your firm.

June 29, 2010 at 9:19 am Leave a comment

Q. How can I monitor interns to make sure they are succeeding at their internship?

by the Intern Coach

A.  Good question! You need to track your new interns’ activities and make sure the interns are performing their duties to company expectations—and school expectations, too, especially if they are earning academic credits. If you have more than one intern, it can be overwhelming for you to keep tabs on everyone. You may be the point of contact, but consider these ways to make your job easier: 

  • Discuss the company expectations with each intern on the first day. Then, you are both on the same page—literally. Provide a schedule and calendar for the entire internship period, so the intern knows the goals and the deadlines for each assignment.
  • Introduce the intern(s) to each department and present the intern work calendar to the department head. Then, the department head takes over, ensuring the intern meets everyone in the department, achieves a good comfort level, and understands the duties.
  • Request that the department head or the person in that department who is supervising the intern file a weekly report with you on the intern’s activities and accomplishments. Ask the intern to also file a report, stating what he/she has done that week.
  • Schedule a weekly 15-minute appointment with each intern to talk about the internship. If you have multiple interns, you could hold one meeting with all the interns, facilitating an exchange of information among the group and encouraging professional relationships.
  • Monitor your intern in case an internship experience is derailed and needs assistance getting back on track. Some signs of a problem might be an intern who is consistently late for work, calls in sick on a regular basis, or who spends too much time on their cell phone. In these situations, jump in early and work with the intern to improve the situation.

May 12, 2010 at 9:44 am Leave a comment

Virtual internships: tapping student talent from a distance

by the Intern Coach

Erin T., a Journalism major at the University of Pittsburgh, wants to work in New York City, after graduation—for a magazine like Cosmopolitan. She knew she needed to have internship experience to achieve her goal. But an internship in the Big Apple was out of the question—housing would be too expensive and she’d have to give up her part-time job that helped pay her college tuition.

Then, she discovered the perfect solution—a virtual internship with the online edition of a startup lifestyle publication located in New York City. She earned 3 credits for writing 10 articles of 1,000 words each over a 10-week period.  “The company encouraged me to find my own topics and even gave me a byline,” says Erin.  “I worked from a computer in my dorm at my convenience and still held down a part-time job.

Erin is part of the growing group of interns taking advantage of virtual internships that remove geographical barriers, allowing students to sample different fields or concentrate on a niche industry while still going to classes and working. More and more employers—especially small to midsize ones—offer virtual internships because they have a larger pool of talented candidates, and they save money on office overhead.  It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

The most common virtual internships are in information technology, software development, research, sales, marketing, blogging, and social media. Companies are looking for self-reliant, self-starters who are comfortable with web conferences, emails, and phone calls. 

Companies should expect students to follow the traditional process to apply for a virtual internship—resume, cover letter and a phone interview. Students applying for virtual internships may have the following questions:

  1. How much mentoring and feedback will I receive?
  2. Who is my key point of contact and how often do we make contact?
  3. What is the type of work and what are the expectations?
  4. Will I receive payment or college credit?
  5. How many hours a week are involved and for how long a period?
  6. Will I get a letter of reference if I do a good job?
  7. Could I view the work of former virtual interns?

The downside of virtual internships is that intern managers may not meet the students working for them.  However, Lee H., a science major who researched projects for a non-profit in a virtual internship, liked developing his own way of doing things.  “I learned how to work independently and more efficiently.”  He pointed out that millions of people already work virtually across the US.

It’s also possible that virtual internships are a way to extend a traditional internship. Keisha P. enjoyed her traditional 3-month summer internship in marketing so much that she didn’t want it to end. She asked her supervisor if she could continue with the company in a virtual internship during the school year. Now she’s preparing PowerPoint presentations and emailing clients from the comfort of her home.

The exploding number of online organizations indicates the future increase in virtual internships.  For example, online schooling is expanding rapidly.  In response, the University of Florida offers virtual internships to prepare student teachers for the new world of the virtual school. The advent of virtual internships in all fields gives students multiple opportunities for both traditional and virtual career-related experiences—adding considerable value to the academic degree.

May 7, 2010 at 10:57 am Leave a comment

Getting an internship back on track

by Miguel Corona

There are two common themes, or expectations, in the relationship between interns and employers. First, the expectation that interns will exhibit initiative and require minimal guidance during their work assignments. Second, during their work assignment, interns expect supervisors to provide direction and clarify goals when needed. Successfully obtaining a balance between employer and intern expectations is what ultimately leads to a worthwhile internship experience for both participants. However, there are situations when the anticipated constructive relationship between employer and intern is not achieved. Occasionally, expected performance objectives are not met or realized during the intern’s assignment. What’s an employer to do when an internship assignment is not meeting expectations?

Having managed both a company and university internship program, there were instances when I had to contend with this unplanned situation. My goal with each occurrence was to reclaim a bad experience, leverage it as a learning opportunity, and encourage a new start. And while circumstances might be different, here are some general considerations I recommend when dealing with an internship assignment that may not be meeting your expectations.

Reflect Before Acting: Before determining a course of action, remember that interns are not only employees but they’re also, first and foremost, students. Managing an intern takes unique attention to both personas. While the same management approach taken with full-time employees should be taken with interns, take into account their brief exposure to your company as well as this possibly being their first professional work experience.

Review the Work Assignment: Balancing the right amount of responsibility with skill capacity is a challenging aspect of managing an intern. In order to assure interns feel challenged and are able to grow, some employers assign work well beyond their current skill set. Determine that the intern’s qualifications are a realistic fit with their assignment. Make adjustments as needed.

Reset Expectations: Underperformance might be a result of unclear expectations, therefore resetting them as soon as you identify an issue is essential. As you did during their first week of work, review performance expectations. Communicate openly, discuss previously set expectations, and determine what performance areas are not being met. Set a new path toward a more positive experience.

Regular Feedback: With new expectations set, both employer and intern share the understanding that the internship assignment, as it continues, will offer the best experience possible. At this point, assure there’s a regular feedback loop in place related to meeting expectations and performance objectives. 

Monitor Going Forward: Build flexibility into the intern’s assignment by incorporating feedback. While this reflection provides the intern with guidance and direction, it also provides the employer an opportunity to monitor for improvement and performance evaluation.

Educate: Teach interns about your industry and field, and share information about the basics of workplace success like workload management, regular communication with the team and supervisor, etc. Interns want to learn from you how to best get things done, what best practices will help them succeed and more. You have the opportunity to share your knowledge and experience, thus helping interns to learn and produce effective results.

April 20, 2010 at 11:06 am Leave a comment

Converting an intern to a new hire: worth it!

by internships.com writer

Do you have a vacancy at your company that needs to be filled by a competent, valuable employee? Great! Are you worried about the cost incurred during the recruitment/hiring period? Not great. It’s time to think about another option for finding and hiring the perfect person to fill the empty office—hire an intern.

I don’t mean hire an intern as a permanent solution, rather create an internship that will allow you to vet various candidates, give young people good experience in your industry, get extra (probably much needed) assistance in the office, and choose the perfect employee from a pool of possibilities that you already know. It’s a win-win situation.

A recent survey, conducted jointly by the Employment Management Association and the Society for Human Resources of 636 professionals, produced the following statistics regarding the most common costs included in a Cost Per Hire:

  • Advertising and event costs (76%) – Converting an intern to a full-time hire means no expensive job listings in newspapers or journals
  • Internet services (63%) – Reduce fees needed for individual job postings
  • Third-party agency contract and fees (52%) – Unnecessary cost if hiring from within
  • Referral bonus costs (49%) — Reduce staff time spent at job fairs, preparing job ads, resume review, interview time, phone pre-screens. These are just a few of the places your staff will save time and effort by hiring from a current intern pool.
  • Signing bonus (37%) — No need to pay a signing bonus if you are converting an intern to a full-time employee. Also, employers report that salaries tend to be lower when hiring a current intern.
  • Technology-based hiring management (19%) – The Internet has increased the number of resumes submitted for positions. Reduce the time spent sorting, reviewing and organizing the paperwork by converting an intern to a new hire.

SHRM surveys report that exempt positions are at $6,943 CpH (Cost Per Hire). Non-exempt positions are reported at $2,546 per hire. And CpH for high skills range from $9,777 to $19,219. Overall, it is reported that companies typically spend $10,000 – $50,000 in tangible costs alone to replace and retrain when a single employee leaves the company.

Basically, it’s a large expense for a company of any size—astronomical for a small company, but nothing to ignore even for a larger company. Converting an intern to a new hire is worth it if you are just looking at the numbers, but when reviewing all of the mutually beneficial aspects of the conversion it’s clearly an excellent solution for all involved.

April 6, 2010 at 1:56 pm Leave a comment

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.

March 31, 2010 at 5:22 pm Leave a comment

Characteristics of Hispanic Millennial interns

by Miguel Corona

One of the most talked and written about generation of Americans are Millennials. While there is some debate on dates, Millennials include people born roughly between 1982 and 2002. While the term “Millennial” is most associated in describing this generation, some have used other descriptors such as “Generation Next,” “Boomer Babies,” “Net Gen,” and other terms. Without a doubt, this generation has gained attention in areas such as education, business, and the workplace. Chances are good your organization currently has or will soon employ an intern from this generation. And like other generations, Millennials are symbolized by their own set of characteristics. Given the diversity of this generation, more attention is being placed on the impact culture might have on how Millennials are characterized. This is particularly true of Hispanic Millennials.

According to the U.S. Census, close to 20% of all Millennials in the United States are Hispanic. This statistic emphasizes the young age of the Hispanic population and the diversity of all Millennials. Hispanic Millennials share many of the same characteristics of mainstream Millennials. Some of these characteristics also closely parallel Hispanic cultural traits: conventional (respectful, not questioning authority); confident (goal-oriented, and confident in themselves); sheltered (highly protected as children); team oriented (team-oriented rather than individualistic); and technically inclined (grew up being familiar with technology). Hispanic Millennials, however, hold a deep respect for their culture’s values, customs, and beliefs. While much attention has already been given to Hispanic Millennials in a marketing and social media context; there is a growing interest about the characteristics of Hispanic Millennials in the workplace.

Results from a recent study share some of these characteristics. What do Hispanic Millennials value most in the workplace? Three factors are most valued by Hispanic Millennials in the workplace: promotion opportunities, supervisors, and co-workers. According to the study, Hispanic Millennials place a much higher value on promotional opportunities than the general Millennial population. Additionally, Hispanic Millennials perceive a higher sense of support from organizations in a work setting. Finally, when compared to previous Hispanic generations, Hispanic Millennials perceive a lower sense of discrimination in the workplace.    

What these results show is that Hispanic Millennials are a generation that expects to be provided with organizational opportunities. They very much want to develop and benefit from their hard work. To increase the likelihood that Hispanic Millennial interns flourish, assure that you’re organization is providing them with a solid developmental program that includes exposure to more experienced managers or leaders (mentors). Verify their work assignments are challenging and communicate how their work efforts are adding value to the organization as a whole. Finally, make sure to leverage their partiality toward working in teams, and minimize projects that have them working alone.  

Related Study: “Ready or Not: Hispanic Millennials Are Here,” The Business Journal of Hispanic Research, 2008, Vol. 2, No. 1, 50-60.

March 23, 2010 at 3:12 pm Leave a comment

Taking the non-traditional path

by Miguel Corona

Traditionally, employers are aware that college students follow a certain road on their way to graduation. The path college students take from school to career can even be described as a “pipeline.” Generally, most students enter college; spend a couple of years adjusting to the campus environment; spend a summer or two working or traveling; and finally graduate and enter the workforce. In most cases, the journey through this pipeline takes somewhere between four to six years. When I think back to my college educational experience, as well as the experiences of the Hispanic college students I’ve talked to over the last fifteen years, the educational pipeline is much different. For me and other Hispanic college students, using the pipeline metaphor might not capture our experiences as accurately as it should. Let me explain by using my journey as an example.

To start, I worked full-time almost five years before setting foot on a college campus. Part of the reason for working full-time was to contribute to the family household, buy a car, and save money in order to go to college. Once enrolled as a full-time college student, I either worked on-campus as a student employee or off-campus to earn extra money to pay for college expenses that my financial aid didn’t cover. And while I did take advantage of school breaks, most of my summers were spent going to school and working in order to graduate within four years (I actually did it in 3 ½). My experience as an undergraduate was not any different than many Hispanic college students today. And while I was fortunate to not have to interrupt my education, many Hispanic college students must do this in order to address many of the same financial factors I described earlier.   

So rather than illustrating the Hispanic college student experience as a pipeline, I think it resembles a pattern of on-ramps and off-ramps; school, work and back to school. It’s an important difference for employers to understand, especially if it doesn’t fit the usual college pipeline characteristics. For example, a non-traditional student pattern can extend time-to-graduation timelines or limit involvement in campus activities. On the other hand, what this unique experience does provide you as an employer are highly responsible, committed, and driven interns. It takes a lot of determination and focus to get through this process. The confidence, maturity, and other work skills Hispanic college students obtain resulting from this non-traditional experience should be leveraged and utilized to benefit your organization.

March 18, 2010 at 7:28 pm Leave a comment

Successful multicultural management

by Miguel Corona

A few days ago, I had lunch with a friend who works for a well known Fortune 500 organization here in Cincinnati. He’s been successful as a leader over the course of his career, which has included experiences on the international stage. During our discussion, we talked about a number of topics, including my on-going efforts of working with employers to increase their awareness and understanding of Hispanics in the workplace. I also mentioned the efforts I’ve made in sharing my thoughts through Intern Matters, my blog, and other social media platforms. Since my friend has extensive experience working in multicultural settings, I asked him to share his perspectives on successful management techniques in this regard. Ironically, most of his advice didn’t involve developing policies or guidelines; they focused on basic and personal efforts a manager can follow. Below are some principles he proposed and has employed:

1) Successful Managers Learn about Culture: Successful managers make a concerted effort to understand and learn about their employees’ culture. By understanding their culture, managers can use more effective motivational strategies and supervisory techniques. This process can just range from simply asking the employee questions to doing some basic research on theInternet. From his experience, my friend noted this minor investment of time can provide major returns.

2) Successful Managers Help Build a Culture of Inclusion: My friend described how he organized lunches or dinners, and invited employees of different cultural backgrounds to informally discuss their experiences. While this suggestion might not always be practical, the main idea is that effective managers are proactive in helping employees become more comfortable in their work environments by providing opportunities to have constructive informal dialogues.

3) Successful Managers Support Social Activities: Just showing up to a social event sponsored by an affinity group goes a long way in developing trust and camaraderie with employees. My friend would make every effort to at least drop in to demonstrate his support for a given event. In most cases, he’d stay longer than he thought!

4) Successful Managers Get Involved in the Community:  Effective managers show a genuine concern for the Hispanic community by getting involved. Whether it’s getting involved in a reading program or becoming a mentor, managers that demonstrate their willingness to improve the educational and professional efforts of other Hispanics build a stronger bond with their employees.

March 11, 2010 at 9:48 pm 2 comments

Lessons learned

by Miguel Corona

My first few posts to the Intern Matters blog have attempted to provide employers with a basic understanding of Hispanic culture and how its characteristics can potentially influence the performance of Hispanic interns in an organization. I believe that understanding the nuances of Hispanic culture – and just not comparing it to mainstream culture – is important to helping effectively manage Hispanic interns in any organization. Over the course of my initial posts, we’ve learned that Hispanics are certainly not a heterogeneous group. Hispanics constitute an assortment of countries, races, and experiences. Yet, as I’ve noted in my first few blog posts, Hispanics share many common values and beliefs.         

However, creating an awareness of these cultural differences is only the start. We’ve learned that Hispanic cultural values and attitudes can play an interesting role in determining how Hispanic interns might behave, observe, and think as they interact in the work setting. I’ll be the first to acknowledge that some of these introductory concepts are vague – and might even lack clear and concise definitions. And while some of the concepts I’ve introduced such as familiasm, personalismo, or simpatia might not have literal English translations, they’ve hopefully provided a basis for cultural awareness, knowledge, and understanding. My goal was to inspire a sense of cultural empowerment; building a sense that cultural understanding can lead to increased participation, performance, and belonging on the part of your interns.

We’ve learned that Hispanic cultural traits are interdependent and are highly founded on connectedness and relationships. By understanding Hispanic culture, employers, as well as interns, are better able to improve their overall performance and effectiveness. How?

1. By knowing that an employer “gets” their cultural background and experiences, Hispanic interns will be more motivated to perform and contribute;

2. By increasing cultural knowledge and awareness, both supervisors and interns learn more about each other and about themselves;

3. By acknowledging their cultural background, interns’ sense of self-worth and confidence are increased significantly; and

4.  By fostering a positive cultural connection, interns’ desire to build more relationships within the organization will also grow.     

These are only a few of the lessons I hope to have provided in these first few posts – broadening the perspective of Hispanic culture as well as the Hispanic experience. In future posts, I hope to build on these ideas and concepts to provide more practical illustrations, and discuss how we can continue to increase mutual understanding and learning.

March 8, 2010 at 5:43 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts


About this blog

This blog is dedicated to employers with a focus on how to hire and manage interns effectively. We will have a variety of experts who will share helpful ideas, tips and more. We invite you to comment, ask questions and share your experiences. You are also welcome to submit written contributions to this blog.

@InternMatters Twitter


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.