Don’t Underestimate the Power of an Intern

Posted by Christina Krenek on Thu, May 10, 2012 @ 08:39 AM

Summer is almost here, which means students are out of school and many are in search for internships. Back in the day, interns used to be perceived as the guys who went on coffee runs, made photocopies and ran the fax machine. Well, times have changed! Internship programs have become valuable resources for top businesses across the nation. Interns may be young and work by the hour, but that is no reason to underestimate the skills and contributions they can bring to your organization.  

Big name companies like Deloitte, KPMG, Google, ExxonMobil and more are praised for offering some of the best and most effective internship programs around the country. An article from Forbes lists the 20 best paid internship programs, which include a majority of oil and technology companies. ExxonMobil is No. 1 and pays interns an average of $6,500 a month. Companies like Google and Amazon weren’t far behind in paying their interns, with an average of $5,100 a month. Of course, these paid internships are very competitive! But whether paid or unpaid, interns can play an integral part to any organization’s needs.

In the Young Producer Study conducted by Reagan Consulting, almost half of the top leading firms had internship programs and recruited directly on college campuses. 

Interns can bring a number of benefits! The biggest benefit is their commitment and eagerness to learn and gain real workplace experience. They bring an exciting, fresh energy and perspective, which is a great addition to workplace teams. Interns are great for contributing innovative ideas and are familiar with cutting-edge business trends, such as social media and technology. They are at a stage in their lives where they are developing both professionally and personally. They are also expert multi-taskers, juggling their academic duties and social life with their professional life.  

Let’s look at KPMG for example. KPMG is one of the largest professional services networks in the world that offers audit, tax and advisory services. Its internship program is one of the top finance internships in the nation. The company offers its interns national training, world-class networking and real-life experience with client interaction. At KPMG, interns are an integral part of the team and interact with senior level executives. And 80 percent of current employees came from the internship program; so they effectively use their internal talent to grow and develop their business.   

ExxonMobil, the largest publically-traded gas and oil company in the world, also knows how valuable their interns are to the organization. The company searches for the best and brightest engineering students to join their team. The students who make the cut get competitive benefits and salary, and have the chance to get a “behind the scenes look” at a global energy corporation. A testimonial about their internship program says, “I could not have asked for a better internship, as there was not a single boring day!” That is a great example of the positive and committed energy interns bring to workplace teams. The most important factor ExxonMobil emphasizes when recruiting and selecting interns is company fit. On their website they list the company values that they look for in all employees, which include ambition, performance-oriented, flexibly, vision, analytical ability and team spirit.

In all aspects of the selection process, it’s essential to look for interns who take initiative and fit with the corporate culture. It’s important to look beyond the “intern” label and look at what that individual can contribute to the team and organization as a whole.       

Here are some quick tips for an effective internship program:

  • Have an official welcome for interns and introduce them to all co-workers and important organization contacts
  • Assign a mentor or a use a “Buddy System”
  • Involve interns in staff meetings and professional events
  • Encourage interns to feel free asking questions, remember they’re learning too!
  • Conduct performance evaluations throughout the internship and give constructive feedback so interns know how they are doing
  • Stay connected, even when the internship is over

Here at Profiles International, our interns are valuable team players within their departments and the company, and many stay with us after their internship for full-time positions. So if you haven’t already considered or established an effective internship program, now is the perfect time to start! Let us know your intern stories on Facebook, Twitter, or the comment box below.

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Topics: Innovation, Culture