Internships provide an underutilized source of new talent.
As a mid-market CEO, there is no question that talent acquisition is essential to the success of your organization. The ability to identify and recruit high-quality employees can make or break how successful you are as a business leader. One often overlooked approach for finding top talent is through internship programs. By setting up an effective internship program that offers competitive salaries, meaningful work opportunities, and a positive learning environment for young professionals, you can access capable employees and create solid pipelines for future talent acquisition.
Benefits of Internships
Many mid-market companies are resource strapped, so looking for talent in often overlooked places makes sense. For starters, they are a low-cost method of recruiting and hiring people. Most internships are either free or compensated at a fraction of the cost of a regular job. Also, those who apply to these programs are usually motivated to gain experience within their chosen field, so they will likely be eager to prove their worth and make an impact. Other benefits include attracting a more diverse workforce, building a stronger brand with local talent, and establishing a talent pipeline for future needs.
Developing an internship program requires careful planning. The following are four simple steps to follow as you begin the process:
- Assign a person who will be in charge of the program. In many cases, you may have a current leader with experience and interest in developing such a program. The responsibilities of this position will likely require only a minimum time expenditure per week.
- Set clear goals for the program and the interns within the program. Identify 2-3 projects that would be a good fit with frequent checkpoints to assess progress. Make sure it is something they can finish during their internship.
- Assign mentors to your interns. By doing so, you are amplifying the impact of the program. In many cases, this will make them feel more comfortable and give them more accessible access to someone who can answer their questions.
- Stay in touch after the internship. Staying in touch keeps the connection alive with those who would likely be a potential fit for your company.
Should you pay interns? On the one hand, paying them will likely make them work harder and feel more appreciated. However, it is not required. With that being said if the company is receiving a benefit from their work, then you really should consider paying them.
During the pandemic, virtual internships become more popular. Many companies didn’t want to cut internships altogether since that meant eliminating a proven pathway for future talent and growth. In 2020, The DeBruce Foundation introduced vShips, an online resource portal created to demystify virtual internships for employers based on advice from national business leaders. This resource provides valuable guidance and practical tips for creating and maximizing virtual internships.
The value of internship programs for mid-market companies cannot be overstated. By investing in young talent with training and insights into company culture, CEOs can gain an edge over their competitors, who may not have taken this initiative. Not only can internships provide companies with access to potential employees, but they also help interns hone their skills and network for professional advancement. Ultimately, mid-market CEOs should recognize the tangible benefits of implementing internship programs as part of their business strategy – it is undoubtedly an investment that pays off.