Finding resources to share responsibility for intern success

June 30, 2011 at 8:00 am | Posted in Intern Support | Leave a comment

Susan Sandberg

As a career services professional, you may be overwhelmed by the increasing volume of student interns who want your help. Since more and more students want internships, consider lining up resource partners to support your mission of a quality internship for every student. Here are a few tips to build alliances and share responsibility:

  • Professional alliances:  Joyce Lain Kennedy in a recent blog on the Chicago Tribune Web site recommended “finding internship opportunities on a new website, The site is an alliance between, a large internship marketplace, and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the dominant human resource management association.”  The alliance works well, too for SHRM, which believes that students embarking on HR careers will want access to SHRM resources to help build a HR knowledge base for success in the first job and throughout their careers. Maximize such partnerships with professional organizations to offer your students assistance and to share responsibility for student success.
  • University alliances:  Universities world-wide are developing alliances with local entities to build stronger internship and career connections. A recent example is Zayed University and Dubai Airport Freezone, which have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to promote cooperation in employment, internships and training and research. According to the terms of the MoU, Zayed University students will gain priority access to temporary and permanent positions within Dubai Airport Freezone, provided they meet specific job requirements of the free zone. Available roles will range from internship and summer work opportunities to full time employment. Zayed University students will also be able to participate in recruitment events like job shadowing and mentor programs.
  • Intern-Supervisor alliances:  Supervisors are your main support during student internship. By now, you should be getting first reports from both your summer interns and their supervisors.  If the intern supervisor contacts you or you see something disquieting in your intern’s reports, then you have to sort out the problems. It may be easier to keep track of your intern through the intern supervisor who will appreciate your active interest in your intern’s success. A written document, defining the roles and responsibility in an internship, could clarify the issues. This document should be created during the first week of the internship and signed by the supervisor and the intern.  Your role is to make sure each party understands his/her responsibilities and follows through appropriately.
  • Student-Parent-Career Center alliances:  Your summer interns are busy learning how to adapt to the world of work, which includes taking responsibility for those own actions, too. An insecure student will want your help while a self-confident student may resent your advice. Unless you see a reason to change a student’s behavior, you may want to give your interns space to grow as individuals. Parents also come into the equation, especially if students are living at home while doing summer internships.  Parents’ expectations may be unrealistic or they may be concerned that their child is not treated fairly at his/her internship.  If your college interns complain to parents—who then complain to you—you’ll be responsible for explaining the situation and resolving it.
  • Please keep in mind that there is not a right or wrong way to measure how much responsibility you should take for your college interns. But keep in mind that the more alliances you build, the more support you’ll have for a successful experience for everyone involved.

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