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5 Things to Know About Internships

Internships are temporary positions with a company which are frequently filled by a student or recent graduate who is eager to learn more about your field. Many companies in a wide variety of industries provide a limited number of internships each year to help students and grads to develop their skills in a real-world position. Internships generally last anywhere from 4 months (a university summer vacation) to a full year, but the timing can vary based on your organization. If you have ever considered creating internship positions, here is what you need to know! 

Financing an Internship 

An internship is often a paid position, although sometimes practicum students may receive school credit instead of financial compensation. Consider the cost of an intern's salary before beginning your search for potential candidates, as you will need to be aware of the hourly wage and the number of hours that you can offer. For some companies, government grants may be available to supplement the cost of hiring students or recent graduates. Consider seeking assistance in the form of grants from your provincial or federal governments, or from educational institutes who may have grants available. 

Design the Position in Advance

Many companies make the mistake of hiring interns, but having very little for them to do. In these cases, interns often end up doing very little meaningful work, instead running errands or making coffee. These types of poorly thought-out internships benefit neither the company nor the student. However, a well-thought-out internship program can help to ensure that the student gains meaningful work experience and your company receives value from the internship. Consider hiring an intern with experience or education related to the project you intend to have them work on and allow them the freedom to learn and experiment during their time with the company. 

Advertise with Schools

A great way to find eligible students or recent graduates is to advertise your position with a school nearby. Some companies may wish to advertise to a university or college, others with a technical school. It may be beneficial to advertise to a specific program or faculty within the school or to broaden your search to students with a wider range of skills and experience. Often these schools will have an office (for example, Career Services) which can help you advertise and fill your position. 

Keep Mentorship in Mind

When bringing an intern into your company, it is important to establish one or several mentors on whom the intern can rely for helpful tips and guidance while getting up to speed with your company. Having established mentors within your company helps to reduce the length of your transition period for your interns, and increases the opportunities for learning and growth that the interns receive. Being a mentor for incoming interns is also a great opportunity for your current employees to take on a leadership role, and hone their skills. 

Moving on from The Internship 

When hiring student interns, it is often expected that most will return to school after the internship is completed. However, when your interns are recent graduates it is likely that they will begin looking for a permanent job following the internship. Many companies find it beneficial to offer a permanent position to one, or a few, interns who have excelled in their positions following the internship. This, however, may not be applicable to all companies. If your interns are returning to school or seeking employment elsewhere, it is important to remember that you may be asked to provide references for them later on. Remember to discuss your organization's reference policy with your interns prior to the end of their internship.

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