May 13, 2019
10 things

10 Things I know about... Internship programs

Julia Becker Collins is the chief operating officer at the Westborough digital marketing agency Vision Advertising. She can be reached at

10) You get out what you put in. Make a real effort, treat interns like valued staff, and you get amazing results. Minimal effort on your part will produce minimal results – and disappointed interns.

9) Make sure you've got the time to run the program. Regardless of pay, the most significant cost to you will be time. You need to put aside time for training, mentoring and work review.

8) Design intern-ready projects. Before your interns' first day, you need to make sure you've got work to benefit both parties. Find (or make) work for interns, from basic work to those research projects you never have the time for.

7) Find the teachers in your staff. Find the team members passionate about teaching and empower them to work with your interns. Win-win.

6) Small businesses craft the best internships. Small businesses are more agile, and you can pass this flexibility on to your interns. They will have access to the staff, all in one place, and learn from each from the multiple hats they wear.

5) Do the paperwork. Make sure you know about school paperwork requirements in advance and review internship agreements and harassment policies during orientation.

4) Always ask for feedback. If you want to run a successful internship program, you've got to know what works. Get feedback from interns regularly and make sure to have an exit interview.

3) Set high expectations upfront. A great internship means hard work on both sides. Be transparent about the level of work from the start. This will lay the foundation for highly motivated interns and help unsuited candidates self-select out of the process.

2) It's okay to challenge interns. Interns can do more than they expect, but only when they get the right training and feedback. Involve them in many facets of your work so they can learn and have their voice heard.

1) Provide an education. If college is book smarts, work is street smarts. Teach interns how to apply their skills and educate them on how day-to-day operations really work. Remember they aren't the only people learning: You'll build confidence in your staff from intern training.


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