Posts tagged ‘employers’

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

Fully tap Hispanic professional organizations

by Miguel Corona

I’m often asked by clients what Hispanic professional organizations serve as good resources for employers. Although there is no shortage of exceptional Hispanic professional organizations, I wanted to share information on a few organizations that I’ve worked with over the years that can provide a variety of help. While many of these Hispanic professional organizations are often utilized to help recruit Hispanic college graduates, many of these same organizations can also offer employers excellent support once Hispanic interns are brought on board. Employers can benefit by partnering with these organizations to provide networking, training, and workshop opportunities for their interns and other employees. They can provide management advice as well as internship program suggestions. If you have a Hispanic professional organization to recommend, please share it!

Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting (ALPFA): As the leading professional organization for Hispanics in the finance and accounting fields, ALPFA is an exceptional resource for employers in this area. ALPFA local chapters offer workshops and symposiums in partnership with other organizations on topics related to Hispanics in this industry.

Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement (HACE): Serving as a link between Hispanic professionals and organizations, HACE provides employers with a variety of helpful programs aimed at educating organizations in the areas of diversity, mentoring, and internship programs. HACE also provides great informational workshops on research regarding Hispanics in the workforce.

National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA): The premier Hispanic organization supporting Hispanic MBAs, NSHMBA’s mission is to improve Hispanic corporate executive representation. It does this by providing education, professional and leadership development through 32 local chapters around the United States.

Latinos in Information Sciences and Technology Associations (LISTA): This organization is focused on supporting Latinos and employers in the science, mathematics, information sciences, new media, telecommunications, and technology fields. LISTA councils around the United States provide information and trends regarding Hispanics in the technology and science fields.

Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE): As a leading organization supporting Hispanics entering engineering, science and other technical professions, SHPE offers both interns and employers numerous resources. Through its Industrial Partner Council (IPC), SHPE partners with employers on ways to increase the representation of Hispanics in the engineering and science fields.

April 8, 2010 at 12:45 pm 1 comment

Internships: they’re not just for summer anymore

by Miguel Corona

There is no question that summer is the most popular period for internships. Students are able to take advantage of a three month break from school to apply their classroom knowledge in practical settings. Additionally, over that same period, employers are able to leverage a reliable source of skilled employees to accomplish short-term projects as well as shore up teams that might be understaffed due to summer vacation schedules. By and large, participating in a summer internship program is highly beneficial to students and employers. So why should employers only take advantage of these benefits in the summer? There is no reason why employers can’t continue building their professional employee pipeline other than in the summer months. Consider the following arrangements to implement an internship program on a year round basis.          

Break the Mold

When I managed the internship and cooperative education programs for the University of Texas at El Paso Career Center, there were often many reasons (e.g. financial, personal, career, etc.) students chose to extend their summer internships. While some colleges might not officially sponsor such arrangements, students might opt to continue working into the fall to meet certain personal obligations or needs. Furthermore, based on these same needs, many students might consider internship opportunities that make use of spring/summer combinations rather than the traditional summer schedule. In a nutshell, consider internships that might not fit the traditional internship “mold” – chances are good there are many students out there who will jump at the opportunity.

Flexibility in Quarter Systems

Both semester and quarter systems furnish college students approximately three months each summer for employment opportunities. However, quarter systems might offer employers additional choices when trying to implement an internship programs on a year round basis. Students attending colleges on quarter systems can provide more flexibility, particularly if projects well-suited for interns present themselves through out the year and not just the summer months. Quarter systems allow students to complete an internship in the middle of the year and still remain on track for graduation. Employers can even consider recruiting at schools using each system in order to meet their year round needs.


Depending on the college, some internship programs allow students to work 10-20 hours per week during the academic year. These types of internship arrangements allow students to work and potentially earn college credit provided that a student’s work experience is directly related to their area of study. These scenarios are a great option for local employers or organizations that offer virtual opportunities. For employers, it provides yet another opportunity to maintain an internship program year round.

March 16, 2010 at 12:56 am Leave a comment

Hispanic interns: we are family

By Miguel Corona

Early in my career, I managed the internship and cooperative education program for the University of Texas at El Paso career center, a campus where over 70% of the student population is Hispanic. As students returned to campus from their work experiences, I spent a lot of time with each of them discussing what he or she had learned from applying their academic knowledge in a practical setting. I’d often ask about their respective projects, supervisors, co-workers, and the cities where they lived. When I asked students about their organization’s culture, a common response went something like “… the people I worked with were like part of a big family.” And while I was delighted to know that student experiences emphasized practical work experience in their area of study, I was just as pleased to see that some employers recognized the importance of “family” to our students. Whether these companies recognized it or not, they had enhanced these students’ internship experiences by tapping an important element of Hispanic culture – familism.

Familism can be described as a cultural characteristic where interests, choices, and activities are formed within the context of a larger network. In most cases, especially in Hispanic culture, this means a family network. If you ask any Hispanic American what is most valued in his or her life, family is usually the first or second choice. Familism is often illustrated as a “belief system” that incorporates loyalty, cooperation, and cohesion towards members of a family or network. Other elements of familism might include duty, support, understanding, and respect. Familism also values principles such as interdependence, camaraderie, and community. One can easily see how these attributes can lend themselves to a work setting.

In organizational environments, particularly internship opportunities, supervisors and interns assume particular roles, which are naturally found in traditional family settings. Hence, in the case of Hispanics, it would make sense to highlight this type of relationship by providing guidance and direction to student interns; mirroring the strong relationships they value in their own family networks. Assure interns are incorporated into all aspects of the department or team to which they’ve been assigned. Give them time to network and get to know everyone with whom they’ll interact. By and large, employers can benefit greatly by extending these family tie concepts into their Hispanic interns’ work environments. Aside from the positive emotional effects, employers will most likely see marked increase in their interns’ performance.

February 22, 2010 at 5:35 pm 4 comments

Guidelines for internships: managing interns well

By writer

Sometimes the work assigned to interns is less than glamorous–data entry, research, scheduling appointments, copying and collating, etc.  As any manager of interns knows, these tasks are the building blocks of critical business projects.  Interns, however, may not understand this yet.  There is a term that these interns, some of them just out of high school, are probably all too familiar with: busy-work.

A common complaint among students is that their teachers give them “busy-work” – work with no other purpose than to keep them busy.  When interns are assigned tasks like photocopying, they might assume it’s busy-work and therefore, unimportant, and this attitude is sure to negatively impact their enthusiasm, commitment, and ultimately, their entire experience. 

That’s why it’s important to explain to your interns that these types of tasks are actually essential steps to accomplishing the critical work objectives of your company.  For instance, when I ask an intern to collect data and enter it into an Excel spreadsheet, I always explain before they begin the project what the data will be used for and why it’s important.  I tell the student how the data will be analyzed and what decisions will be made based on the data.  Whenever possible, I invite the intern to participate in those meetings or conversations, so they can observe the life of their work after completion.

It’s important to explain the larger impact of a task before an intern starts  a project.  This will help them to understand why it’s important to finish the task efficiently and with integrity.  In my experience I have found this always leads to a better product and a happier, more engaged intern.

Everyone wants to know they are contributing to the larger business objectives or bottom line of a company, including interns.  For an intern, this is probably their first foray into the business world and they probably have high expectations.  By teaching the interns that tasks such as data entry and appointment scheduling are a vital step to accomplishing company-wide goals, they will feel invested and important.  The intern will also learn a lot more about how business gets done, not just data entry!

February 11, 2010 at 8:23 pm Leave a comment

Understanding cultural differences in the student world

By Miguel Corona

The rapid expansion of globalization continues to transform American society in a number of ways. We now live and work in an environment that is consistently being influenced by diverse cultures. The same diversity that is changing the American workforce has already transformed many colleges and universities. Students from varying ethnicities and races including Hispanics now constitute a growing part of the student population on many campuses in the United States. It’s a transformation that many colleges and universities are embracing. Hence, it’s logical to assume that much of the diversity found on campuses will continue to spill into the work environment.

Employers of all sizes and from various industries are conscious of this trend. Many employers have already grasped the idea that their organizations’ workforce should reflect the broader demographic and social environment in which they operate. But while diverse representation in organizations is important, just as vital is an employer’s ability to manage this diverse workforce. This creates a new set of challenges for employers including the development of new types of leaders skilled in managing an increasingly multicultural workforce. These new generations of leaders will require the ability to identify, understand and appreciate cultural differences – in other words, to be culturally intelligent.

Cultural Intelligence, or CQ, can be described as a person’s ability to relate effectively with people of different cultural backgrounds. By developing this skill, people are better able to engage, manage, and work with diverse work groups. From a Hispanic intern perspective, CQ can provide considerable value. Take for instance understanding acculturation differences. Acculturation can be described as the process of taking on another culture while keeping aspects of another (original) culture. Studies have demonstrated that Hispanic acculturation levels vary in the United States. Language, for example, is a cultural characteristic many Hispanics hold onto in order to maintain a connection with their heritage, family, and community. On the other hand, English becomes more dominant and important in the workplace or as Hispanics become more acculturated.  

Employers who have a greater understanding of CQ and its implications are in a better position to connect and manage Hispanic interns and other interns from differing cultures. Like other intelligences, CQ can be developed in most people with the objective of increasing their confidence in managing employees of different cultures. In future posts, I’ll continue to introduce specific cultural topics and concepts related to Hispanics in the workplace that might impact their values, attitudes, communication, and performance.

February 9, 2010 at 12:03 am Leave a comment

Hispanic interns: perspectives to keep in mind

by Miguel Corona

Hispanics are the largest minority group in the United States, making up 15% of the U.S. population. Results from the upcoming 2010 U.S. Census will likely show that the Hispanic population will remain one of the fastest and youngest ethnic groups in the United States. In fact, the U.S. Census has already projected that Hispanics will comprise 29% of the U.S. population by the year 2050. The significant growth of Hispanics over the last 20 years has already influenced American culture, business, media, and education.

As a result, colleges and universities have already seen an increase in the number of Hispanic enrollments. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Hispanic college enrollment between 1976 and 2004 increased an astonishing 372 percent. Today, Hispanics represent 11% of all college students in the United States. Over the next decade, Hispanic college enrollments are expected to increase by more than 39% as compared to 5% for whites, 26% for African Americans, and 26% for Asian Americans.

All college interns are eager to test their skills in a “real world” environment; however, Hispanic students might enter internship programs with very different life experiences. Below are three perspectives about Hispanic college students to keep in mind as they potentially participate in internships with your organization.

A large number of Hispanics are considered “non-traditional,” or “commuter” students. Unlike traditional college students that attend college directly after high school, non-traditional students such as Hispanics often take diverse educational paths. For example, many Hispanics spend their freshman and sophomore years attending community colleges before transferring to four-year universities.

It’s also not uncommon to find Hispanics that have interrupted their educational pursuits to work full-time and earn money to pay for tuition, books, and supplies. Hispanics possess a strong commitment to family, which might also mean contributing to their family’s economic well-being and therefore, taking a break from their college studies. This educational “on and off ramping” can potentially extend a Hispanic student’s time to graduation. 

Finally, a majority of Hispanics are first-generation college students, and very often, the first in their families to attend college. As a result, Hispanic college students will seek out affinity groups or experienced peers that can support their educational pursuits. Coaching and mentoring using a social support system is vital to them. Once a connection is made Hispanic students are incredibly loyal and committed to such relationships.

Employers sometimes go into internships knowing their expectations might not be met; however, the non-traditional characteristics described above transform into highly sought after work skills when applied to college interns: maturity, confidence, adaptability, commitment, and loyalty. These qualities are only enhanced when you consider that Hispanic college students are also eager to learn, eager to gain experience, and eager to be part of a team.

January 27, 2010 at 5:55 pm Leave a comment

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.

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