Internships: creating high impact practices
Offering high impact internships takes intentional planning and implementation but increases intern engagement, learning, and desire to stay with an organization long-term. Integrating a few of the ideas below could lead to a more productive experience for both your interns and your organization.
Interns are expected to fully engage:
- Co-create learning goals
- Be challenged
- Work on projects important to the organization
- Produce work samples they can add to their professional portfolios
- Contribute to organizational decision-making
- Have a safe opportunity
Interns are exposed to diversity:
- Ways of thinking and solving problems
- Strategies for prioritizing and managing work
- Methods of communication
- Projects and tasks
- People, teams, and organizational levels
Interns build substantive connections with:
- Interns and coworkers in immediate work team
- Interns and staff members in other teams
- Supervisors and other mentors committed to helping interns succeed
- Individuals who might become important networking contacts
Interns are asked to reflect on:
- Progress towards stated learning goals
- What they still need to learn
- What they value
- Who they are
- Who they want to become
- Career development goals and next steps
Interns receive rich performance feedback:
- Regularly scheduled informal check-in meetings
- Periodic formal performance evaluations
- From both supervisors and peers
- Focused on what they are doing well and how they could improve
- Ask interns what they want to learn and create or modify projects accordingly.
- Assign both individual and team projects.
- Plan social activities for interns.
- Have executives share career advice.
- Ask interns to write meeting agendas.
- Allow time for informational interviews with various employees.
- Require interns to write learning logs or field journals.
- Have interns present on their projects.
- Provide professionalism training.
- For examples of how employers have implemented high impact practices, read NACE’s article on Internship issues, solutions, best practices.
Reference: High-Impact Educational Practices: What They Are, Who Has Access to Them, & Why They Matter by George Kuh (2008).