I invite you to clear your mind of any pre-conceived notions about internships. Now, more than ever, employers have options when selecting an intern to fit your company’s particular needs. The word “internship” is expanding to include all types of structured and supervised experiential learning beyond the traditional 12-week college internship. Each type offers a distinct approach that can produce innumerable benefits for your organization, the student and our state.
Maybe you’ve dismissed the idea of hosting an intern because you don’t have the resources to manage a semester-long office internship. Or maybe your company’s work lends itself to a different internship approach. There are several new internship trends that can address specific goals you have, help you tap into fresh talent and even recruit full-time employees. There are also different demographics you can consider for internships beyond the 20-year-old college student.
• Virtual internships: Low on office space? Do business nationally or internationally? Office located far away from major cities or college towns? If you have work that can be completed and shared online, a virtual internship could be a great option for you. It’s also a great way to keep in touch with soon-to-be professionals. Take it from our friends at Ativio, an information technology and business process outsourcing solutions company in Indianapolis.
“We work in virtual environments all the time,” said Susan Nierste, vice president of business affairs. “We know what we need as a company from newly graduating students, and we make the effort to share that knowledge with the students to help build their résumés and skills.”
• Project-based internships: Project-based internships can be long term or short term, based on a project’s scope and completion. Maybe you are looking to launch a new web site and you want to contract with an intern to focus solely on that. Maybe you need a new logo and marketing materials, so you hire an intern to complete that job.
The World Baseball Academy in Fort Wayne has offered project-based internships for about two-and-a-half years, mostly focusing on graphic design and research projects.
“We didn’t want to spend a lot of time training, so we just match up skill sets with specific projects and let the interns work independently,” said Caleb Kimmel, executive director. “So far it’s worked out pretty well, where interns get experience and make a real impact on the organization.”
• Post-graduate internships: Post-grads make a unique addition to your staff. They are familiar with the latest industry trends and eager to land a job. This type of internship can serve as a great recruiting tool and it allows you to immerse someone into your company before hiring them full time.
myCOI, a certificate of insurance company in Indianapolis, successfully transitioned its post-grad summer intern, Kyle Vail, into a full-time employee.
“When I started, myCOI had work to be done, projects to take on and a team of people who wanted to see me succeed. That’s a welcome feeling for an intern,” Vail said. “That’s why I joined the team.”
• ‘Returnships’: “Similar to internships, except returnships are designed for mid-career professionals who left the workforce either voluntarily or involuntarily. These candidates are typically people who are in the process of changing careers and want to test the waters before diving into a certain field. Returnships can also be a good recruiting strategy.
One advantage of hosting a returnship is that the candidate is likely to have an existing professional network that could benefit your company. Also, this person probably understands the demands of the professional world and how to conduct themselves appropriately. Returnships are a way for these individuals to gain re-entry into the workforce and are a great source of talent for your organization.
I don’t want to discount the value of traditional internships. Current college students can bring a unique dynamic into your office, injecting enthusiasm and creativity into your work. High school and non-degree-seeking individuals can also deliver diverse skills and perspectives to your workplace.
No matter how you structure your internship, the benefit to Indiana’s economy is undeniable. When students have internships in Indiana and start building connections here, the chances of them staying become greater. And when Indiana retains top talent, businesses get stronger and everyone benefits.
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