It’s no secret that good relationships have a stable foundation of equity and trust. These relationships can span from the confines of a boardroom to the comforts of your own home. The partnership your company forms with its interns should be no different. initiate-it has operated an internship program since our inception in 2011, but we watched it spread its wings wide in 2016, after placing some formality behind our process.

Each year, our methods, efforts, and execution had improved, but a few years ago, we realized what remained constant: Our underlying belief that the internship program should be built on a basis of mutual benefit and shared gain. We began to deeply harbor this mentality throughout the planning, recruiting, training, and mentoring phases of our process and as such, have come to enjoy very positive results. As one of our internship directors, I can speak to our focus during each of these stages and what it has meant for the success of our program.

Planning Your Program

To begin our planning, we sit down and remind ourselves why we are running an internship program, identify the positives for us, the positives for the individuals we may hire, and determine how we plan on ensuring the successful delivery of these benefits to all parties. This line of thinking will naturally lead us to discuss years past, and to determine what has worked well and what could use some alterations.

Recruiting Your Interns

Once the groundwork has been established, we progress to determining the types of individuals who would be successful in this role and who would benefit from it most. Finding a balance of these two categories in each candidate you hire is very important. If you search solely for talent, you may lose your top choices to other companies. If you identify only individuals who would gain the most from working with your team, you risk not hiring the most qualified people for the job and handicapping yourself. By ultimately selecting individuals who check both boxes, you are setting yourself and the new team, up for success.

Training Your Interns

Even before your newly acquired members step foot into the office for the first time, your opportunity to train them begins. It is important to find a happy medium between hand-holding for support and lack of guidance, to garner initiative. If your planning and recruiting were done effectively, this balance should be easy to strike. By training the interns on company and industry knowledge and allowing them to develop their own work ethic, creative skills, and critical thinking, you will be providing a healthy environment for growth and gaining new perspective within your organization.

Mentoring Your Interns

Perhaps the greatest misconception about mentorship – especially of interns or young employees – is that it is synonymous with training, management, or an amalgam of the two. Mentorship is much more about personally connecting with your interns. For a mentorship to be most effective, there must be a connection and a certain level of care and trust between the two parties. If this type of relationship is not forged, the mentee may miss out on an opportunity for growth. But certainly, this is a two-way street, both the intern and their respective mentor must be devoted to forming a bond for this to truly work.

Planning, recruiting, training, and mentoring properly, in pursuit of executing a corporate internship, can go a long way towards providing growth for your company and those that you hire. By approaching an internship strategically, you set both your company and its newest team members up for increased success.

Posted by Tom Hinkes, Account Executive & Content Marketing Writer at initiate-it, a digital first, full-service agency located in Richmond, VA.