Many of us do not fully comprehend or appreciate the full scope of benefits of having a Student Internship Program (SIP).Having been associated with creating and administering a SIP in two organizations, I have seen first hand how extremely beneficial it is to have such a program in place to both the student interns AND employers.
For employers, Student Interns (current College/University students) provide key benefits, including the provision of having a year round source of highly motivated pre-professionals to your organization to assist with special events and short-term projects, offer possible fresh ideas and new perspectives, and can be a cost-effective solution for short-term projects.Having a SIP also provides a community service element by primarily assisting students and colleges/universities meet their goals as your organization contributes expertise to the educational enterprise; and provides the valuable career related experience that students need and want before they graduate.
For students, Internships provide key benefits, including the learning activities common to your educational major and your career goals, and acquiring valuable work experience prior to graduating.
Key Areas For Success
Employers:Having an established organizational SIP policy (guidebook) ensures your SIP process is administered fairly and consistently.Here are some of the vital areas that should be included within your SIP:
- Ensure that your SIP is structured to establish a balance between the primary student intern's learning goals and the specific responsibilities associated with his/her department internship (note: student intern positions are not designed to displace a regular employee).
- Provide a flexible schedule for your interns to participate (minimizing the impact on their associated educational requirements). Also, you should not exceed a reasonable number of weekly participation hours as the dual benefit goal can be easily met with as little as 8 to 12 hours a week (ideally in 4-hour sessions).
- In addition to their resume, require a current school transcript from your student intern; ensuring that they are current students seeking a degree.
- Conduct a background check, have an agreement form (covering items such as indemnification, compensation, and restrictions), and provide a copy of all company policies to all selected student interns before they begin their internship.
- Monetary compensation to student interns is not a requirement. Although student interns would like to receive a salary, their main goal is to obtain the valuable experience before graduating (and offering them with a flexible participation schedule is also a high priority to them while they meet their educational requirements).
Students:Here are some vital areas that should be included when searching to participate in a SIP:
- Perform your internship in a department that is associated with your educational major or career goal.
- Perform specific functions that will enhance your career opportunity when you graduate.
- Minimal hours of participation; which will not affect but compliment your educational requirements.
- Flexible schedule that allows you to choose the day(s) and hours of the week to participate (ideally in 4-hour sessions).
- Be flexible and not limit yourself to only internships that provide monetary compensation; obtaining work experience associated with your educational major before you graduate should be your main priority.
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Bottom Line: Having a well established SIP provides a WIN-WIN scenario to both Students AND Employers!