Points of View

Designing Great Internships for Students and Employers

Sam Stebbins

Talent 2025 is dedicated to developing West Michigan’s workforce, and internship programs are an excellent way for businesses to train new talent for their career fields. Whether or not interns become your full-time employees, having a great internship program is advantageous for your business.

Internships are a great tool for businesses to utilize as they are beneficial for both students and employers. Students have the chance to try out a career field and ensure they are on the right path before they earn their degrees. Additionally, they gain valuable work experience by developing soft skills before entering the workforce, and have the chance to build a professional network.

Employers benefit too, as interns bring the latest tools and ideas from their classrooms into the workplace and offer a chance for mid-level staff to gain management experience. Internships also serve as inexpensive recruitment tools and opportunities to train future employees. On average, 60% of interns are offered full-time jobs, and 81% of those accept the offer.

However, employers need to take steps to ensure that their internship program is truly beneficial to both their businesses and interns.


What Makes a Great Internship Program

First, don’t forget to set up a solid orientation for the intern. Introduce them to appropriate personnel and provide them with a handbook, whether on paper or through a website. Similarly, closely monitor their work and progress early on. This way, you will know you are on the same page and the intern will soon be able to produce good work independently.

It’s important that interns are doing work that is both relevant and beneficial to them—not just grabbing coffee and making copies. They should gain thorough, hands-on exposure to the industry they are working in through the internship.

Assigning interns to legitimate projects also creates the most valuable program for the business. Interns are capable of completing good work, and assigning them to important projects serves to train potential future employees.

Most internships last between three and nine months. By the end of the internship, conduct exit interviews to help evaluate the success of an internship program. Ideally, interns will feel positively about their experiences and, even if they can’t become full-time employees, will speak highly of your business to their classmates, professors, and career centers.


Where to Learn More

Talent 2025 works with West Michigan employers to develop successful internships. Learn more about what employers are saying about internship programs from a previous blog post. You can also learn more by getting involved with Talent 2025’s Post-Secondary Education or Adult Workforce Development Working Groups.