Monday, January 09, 2006

Breaking the 'Cheap Labor' Myth

A few months ago I was asked to do a presentation on internship programs. I focused this discussion on why intern programs are not "cheap labor" and in fact, cost a lot in terms of time and energy. I then tied that back to why time and effort would result in great value for both the employer and student.

Since I have a new intern starting today, this was on my mind. Here are the main points that I discussed.

Value to the Employer:
  • Opportunity for younger professionals to learn managerial skills.
  • Opportunity to “scope” out talent / future employees.
  • Opportunity to be a mentor – long-term investment in the future.
  • Opportunity to get more work out of a day.

Value to the Student:

  • Opportunity to make mistakes.
  • Opportunity to learn that the real world isn’t “glamorous.”
  • Opportunity to experience lots of tasks.
  • Opportunity to build a portfolio.

Developing a valuable program:

  • Analyze work environment, and develop program requirements and work plan.
  • Write an intern manual – code of conduct, dress code, internship requirements.
  • Find a talent source – educational program, professional contacts, etc.
  • Create an interview process – basic questions, writing test, etc.
  • Set aside time for a proper orientation.
  • KEEP YOUR INTERN BUSY!!! One or two long-term projects and actively look for short-term projects. Not their job to ask, your job to assign. (time commitment)
  • Offer advice – on projects and general topics. (mentor)
  • At the conclusion, evaluate and BE EVALUATED.


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