Does your department host interns over the summer? Summer is the most popular term for college students to intern as many are not taking classes.
Joia Patterson, Career Advisor and Internship Coordinator in the Gatton College of Business & Economics at the University of Kentucky, says that interning in the summer gives students the chance to take what they have been learning in the fall/spring semesters and apply it in a real-world setting.
In the summer, students are able to staff more hours without the conflict of a full-time academic schedule.
Patterson has the following advice for community members who are hosting collegiate-level interns:
First, community members should take the time to develop learning objectives with their intern. This will give the students and the supervisor a foundation to measure the experience. These learning objectives should be robust, measurable and attainable. For example, a learning objective to learn how to use new social media software platforms effectively and to increase follower engagement levels by 10 percent over the course of the summer.
Second, community members should place interns on projects that are results focused. This will give the intern the opportunity for an attractive resume builder. Data entry, data analysis and benchmarking projects are common projects for interns, but be sure to share context for how the data will be used and the impact it can have on your organization.
Avoid giving your intern tasks that are not directly related to your learning objectives. Interns should not be considered as free labor. In fact, there are labor laws that protect students from working for free for for-profit companies. Employers that are not able to pay interns, should ensure students are enrolled in an experimental education course at minimum. However, if you want the best candidate pool, offering an hourly wage is highly recommended.
Third, incorporate the intern into your culture. Making the student feel like they belong to the organization will enhance your employer brand. If there are meetings that would be appropriate to include your intern, certainly do. Sitting in on staff meetings or strategy meetings can provide your intern with valuable context for what the world of work in your industry looks like.
Patterson also recommends intern supervisors to use the learning objectives as an opportunity to discuss feedback on work performance. She says, “Supervisors should be intentional about establishing frequent check-in meetings to ensure the intern is fully aware of their progress. The supervisee/supervisor relationship should be kept professional and inviting.”
When asked about ideal recruiting timelines, Patterson suggests recruiting a semester in advance, so in the spring for a summer internship opportunity. However, it’s never too late to with a local university to post an internship opportunity or to discuss strategy for building an internship program.
Amanda Schagane serves as a career coach in the Gatton College of Business & Economics at the University of Kentucky. She is designated a Master Career Counselor by the National Career Development Association and has served as president for the Kentucky chapter of the organization. Join her on LinkedIn or email her at Amanda.Goldsmth@uky.edu.