Preparing Fall interns for their new corporate cultures

August 26, 2010 at 11:18 am | Posted in Advising interns, corporate culture, Preparing interns | Leave a comment

To help your Fall interns understand the corporate culture at their upcoming internships, suggest a few research assignments, helping them assess the values, standards, and behaviors of the corporate leadership.

A good starting point is with values and goals. Ask your prospective interns to read the history of the company and the biographies of the corporate leaders. Annual reports are also an excellent source of information on the company’s achievements, challenges, or changing values. The corporate mission statement and the slogan also reveal the values in a company. And Google is helpful in tracking any information about the company that might reveal more about its values.

Next, your student interns can evaluate the company standards. One way to evaluate its position in the community is to find out if it sponsors charitable events or champions local sports teams. Reading past employee newsletters will also reveal company standards in terms of how employees are treated. Students should look for articles on employee award, bonus, or incentive programs as well as company holiday events and number of vacation days.

Finally, your interns will benefit greatly by exploring the company behaviors, including dress and language. The company Web site, brochures, and annual reports usually have images of employees at work, revealing dress codes and helping your intern know how to dress. The age of employees is also another guidepost to behavior. If most of the employees look young, the environment at work may revolve around social media and contemporary topics, ensuring that your student intern will “fit” in very quickly.

If possible, connect your prospective intern with a former intern from that company, so they can share information on corporate culture. The former intern could serve as a mentor to his/her replacement.  You could establish an intern alumni network to help all your new interns.

Take time to network with alumni

August 23, 2010 at 11:10 am | Posted in alumni | Leave a comment

One of the most important Fall events on campus is the annual homecoming weekend, welcoming alumni back to their alma mater. This nostalgic weekend brings back happy memories for these former students and engenders warm feelings for their school. It’s a perfect time to connect with them to develop internships for your current students.

You can partner with the alumni office to help you target the appropriate alumni. First, find out who is coming to campus and what are their business affiliations. With the assistance of the homecoming committee, plan a brunch or reception with the alumni and the career center. At the event, introduce your internship program and provide informative material. You might want to emphasize that you will custom design internship programs with companies that don’t have existing ones. After the homecoming weekend is over, send follow-up letters or make follow-up phone calls for appointments to explore setting up or expanding internship programs.

Your school or career center could also selectively invite successful alumni to serve on an internship board, advising you on internship issues. However, make sure the board isn’t overworked with too many meetings or duties, and introduce an element of enjoyment, such as catered dinners on the night of the board meeting. Alumni also enjoy receiving Certificates of Appreciation from the university president for outstanding efforts in supporting the internship program or career center.

Some schools or departments match alumni with students, leading to excellent internship opportunities. For a successful mentoring program, create guidelines for the alumni, including how often to meet interns, what topics to address, etc. And schedule your own meetings with the alumni, too, in order to develop additional internships and resolve any problems.

Explore internship sites for Fall possibilities

August 19, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Posted in Enlarging internship programs | Leave a comment

You probably have most of your usual Fall internships assigned by now with your established internship sites, but these companies are also fertile ground for additional internships. The company already knows and trusts you; you have developed a long-term relationship. Your best game plan is to design new internships that will “fit” into the company and then present the enlarged internship program to the internship supervisor. Explore areas of the company that aren’t using interns for a source of new intern positions. The more work that you can do to save the company time and effort, the more successful your proposed internship plan will be.

Offer some new incentives to your internship sites to encourage them to accept more interns. These could include additional pre-internship training and more monitoring by you. Perhaps your students could acquire new skills on campus in preparation to work on company computers before they arrive, reducing training time by company staff. After you have your proposal prepared, make an appointment in person if possible and present your plan for more interns to the company personnel.

Another excellent way to create additional internships is through remote or virtual internships. These work well for projects or for research that can be done by a self-motivated intern without supervision. More and more students want to work from computers in their dorm rooms, so you’ll have lots of applicants for the virtual intern slots. It’s up to you to convince the companies that they would benefit, too.  You might want to design the virtual program, including length, hours, report system, and suggested projects.  Then, ask the company if you can do a presentation to the staff.  Consider, too, if a company has other locations or subsidiaries that might be open to either new regular or virtual internships for the Fall.

Take time to wrap up each internship at every company

August 16, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Posted in Internship wrap-up | Leave a comment

When a student completes an internship, your work isn’t over, especially if you hope to keep placing interns at that site. Companies really appreciate your follow up regarding their interns because they realize that you’re actively involved, and they can count on you for support in the future. If possible, try to do the wrap up session in person. If your budget allows, you could offer to take the intern supervisor to lunch as a way to say thank you.

Another way to express your appreciation is to present the internship supervisor with a Certificate of Appreciation from your school. A framed certificate is good because it can be hung up immediately. You could also say thank you by giving the person a school mug or school pen.

Although the intern supervisor may have already filled out an intern assessment or evaluation form, you might want to design your own form, asking questions that might help you improve your successful placements in the future. To make it easy for the intern supervisor, create questions with multiple answers, facilitating a quick check mark. This survey could be done online for efficiency. If you mail it, do include a stamped, self-addressed envelope.

After you receive the survey back from the intern supervisor, review it and write a response, expressing your thanks and willingness to make the changes that were suggested. If the intern supervisor has been having problems with interns, devise solutions and keep him/her updated on your progress. Ask the internship supervisor if he/she would like help in making any changes in the program and then follow up on any requests. For example, you might want to introduce virtual internships into the program, so you could place more student interns with the company. Use your wrap up time to improve your program as well as each company’s.

Q. Our career center is overwhelmed with students wanting internships. Any suggestions on how to streamline the process?

August 5, 2010 at 10:37 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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by the Intern Coach

A. Many career centers around the country are experiencing the same overload as more and more students want multiple internship experiences. Historically, career centers have been able to spend individual time with each student, but many centers are now developing more efficient ways to deal with their larger numbers and still maintain quality service. Here are a few tips that might work for you: 

  • Group orientation sessions:  Utilizing the same format for freshmen orientation sessions, invite all students who intend to apply for internships to attend an orientation meeting early in the semester. Supply each student with an internship handbook, outlining the procedure. Introduce your staff and ask a former intern or two to discuss his/her experience. Also, provide a timetable with deadlines, so your office isn’t swamped at the last minute with students who want internships.

You may even want to distribute a list of companies with whom you work and the individual requirements, so students can evaluate their own readiness for each internship. If you’re planning an Internship Fair on campus, you could alert  students to be aware of the date, so they can put it on their calendars. 

  • Online applications:  Develop an online application with all the details that you need in order to enroll a student as a potential intern. Use your career center Web site to structure the internship process. You might want to include a sample resume, and then ask the student to customize the resume for himself/herself. You could also suggest that the student access the QuickBuild Resume on internships.com. for more help. Consider adding a Q & A section about internships on your Web site or start an Intern Coach blog.
  • Mentoring programs:  Students really appreciate connecting with other students who have had internship experiences already. Using the list of former and current interns, set up a mentoring system, matching potential interns with experienced ones. You might also find that current interns could benefit from linking up with former interns, especially if both share internship experience at the same company.
  • Career Center interns:  Increase the number of interns that you use in your own career center to help reduce your own workload. Many students are more comfortable taking their first internships on campus than in a strange environment, which means you should have an excellent pool of candidates. They also value the opportunity to have an “insider’s view” of available internships for future opportunities.  A well-trained intern can serve as the initial point of contact for students who are applying for internships.

Q. Students are lining up for fall internships. Any hot industries to suggest?

August 3, 2010 at 11:35 am | Posted in Finding internships | 1 Comment
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by the Intern Coach

A. Hot is the operative word after a summer of record-breaking heat in much of the country as well as the world.  Some fields of special interest are Global Warming, Sustainability, and on a lighter (and cooler) note, Scuba Diving. Internships.com has recently added thousands of new internships for your students, so please browse the new offerings after you check out the following: 

  • Global Warming:  Greenpeace, the leading independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful direct action and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and to promote solutions, is seeking unpaid interns for research, general administrative support, assistance with various projects, including organizational skills trainings, events or activities in the field, logistics, and other duties. Must be open to working with multiple campaigns and departments as needed: Global Warming, Forests, Oceans, Nukes, Research, Development, Communications, and Actions. Greenpeace has over 80 internships around the country listed on internships.com for positions ranging from Global Warming to Grassroots Organizing.
  • Sustainability:  Fairfood International is a non-profit campaign and lobby organization, which encourages the food and beverage industry to increase the level of sustainability of its products. Fairfood has divided the world into nine regions. Each of these has a small lobby office that actively approaches all food companies that have their international head office located in that region. The Lobby Department of Fairfood is currently recruiting interns for the position of Assistant Lobbyist Sustainability Food Companies. These interns help the lobbyist in stimulating food and beverage brand owners to increase the levels of sustainability and transparency associated with their companies. The deadline for these unpaid internships is Aug. 19. At least one internship is a virtual one, which may work well for a student during the fall term.
  • Scuba Diving:  The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), the world leader in diver training education, is running a nationwide college Marketing internship program to promote scuba diving and the adventurous lifestyle of divers. Responsibilities include creating strategic marketing plans to attract college students to try scuba diving and become PADI Open Water Diver certified. Interns create their own marketing campaigns and test them in their local university markets. PADI provides resources and guidance. There are 26 locations in the country offering the internship, ranging from New York City to Denver, Colorado to Seattle, Washington. The application deadline for these unpaid with credit available internships is Aug. 18.

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