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How to Create a Great Internship Program

Hiring interns can be a great way to find talented, long-term employees and build the team you need to grow your business. But how does a business create a successful internship program to benefit both the business and the intern and prevent avoidable legal issues? In this article we’ll take a look at how to build an effective internship program – that’s legally compliant.

How to Create a Great Internship Program


Small to medium sized businesses can benefit greatly from an internship program, particularly when they partner with a local college to work with students for summer internships. Ideally, companies will have a program in place to stay in touch with interns and then reach out to the most promising candidates after graduation to offer them a full-time job.


There are several steps to building a successful internship program:


1. Brush up on Hawaii internship laws


In order to avoid a potential legal issue, it’s very important for employers to follow Hawaii labor laws for internships. This information from the Hawaii Employers Council is a great place to start.


2. Put someone in charge of the program


Putting someone within your company in charge of the internship program is the most important step to making it a success. This person will help recruit and hire interns, monitor their progress and make sure interns are getting what they need out of their time with your business. Depending on how many interns your company hires at a time, you may be able to assign this task to a full-time employee as a part of their role.


3. Clearly define the role and set goals and expectations


There is nothing worse for a young intern dipping their toe into the work world than getting hired only to be left floundering. A successful internship program has clearly defined roles and tasks/projects for each intern along with specific goals and expectations for the time they will be working with your organization. It is a good idea to provide daily and weekly to-do lists that will lead to the successful completion of the projects assigned to the intern. This process not only increases the chances of hiring interns who are a better match for your company, it also makes it much more likely that their internship will benefit both the intern and the employer.


4. Assign a mentor to each intern


Interns are looking for a learning experience in a field that they are interested in knowing more about but it’s also important that they feel welcome and taken care of while they are there. The best way to accomplish these goals is to assign a mentor or buddy who can answer their questions, check in on them and provide them with daily guidance. The buddy should preferably not be the intern’s supervisor who is tasked with providing performance reviews. The relationship should be relaxed and friendly so the intern feels comfortable asking any questions they may have.


5. Schedule regular check-ins and reviews


Interns need regular feedback about the projects they are working on to help them gain confidence in their growing skills and accomplishments. On the other hand, if expectations are not being met, the best way to turn things around is to meet early on to review steps to improve the situation. In addition, regular check-ins give interns the chance to ask questions and provide reassurance they are a valued part of the team. Weekly check-ins are ideal.


6. Invest in intern development


Interns can provide great value to businesses but in exchange the business should be investing in intern development. Giving daily feedback, pairing them with experienced employees who can show them the ropes and answer their questions and offering basic training and education materials are all key to providing the positive, enriching experience that interns are ultimately looking for.


7. Stay in touch


One of the biggest benefits to hiring interns is lost when a business fails to keep in touch with them after the internship ends. This is especially true for students who were hired and then go back to school to finish their program. Ultimately, a great internship program is like a long interview and training program for future full-time employees. When you stay in touch, you are showing that you care and this can increase the chances that they will choose your job offer over another offer after they graduate.


Partnering with Makai HR


Not excited about employer laws or need HR support for your growing business? That’s okay; we’ve got you covered through HR outsourcing! When you partner with Makai HR you can get on with the business you are trying to grow while we take care of your employee needs from payroll to taxes, health insurance/benefits and worker’s compensation. You also gain peace of mind that you are compliant with all of Hawaii’s employer laws (if you’ve ever looked you know that the list is very long). When choosing a PEO to partner with, there are many things to consider including cost, services and technology solutions.


With the cost of doing business in Hawaii at record highs, we know how important it is to keep labor costs in line with revenue. Our plans are priced competitively and include value-added services like time-in/time-out systems. Our three tiers of PEO service plans are tailored to the size of your business and specific needs. We offer a 100% paperless solution which means that your employees can manage their needs through a computer, tablet or phone. We can truly improve your employees’ work benefits while freeing you up to run your business.


What are you waiting for? Companies that partner with a PEO benefit from 7-9% faster growth, 10-14% lower employee turnover; and they are 50% less likely to go out of business. Contact us today to get started!

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