Is Your Intern Program Ready?
By AgCareers.com

What is the status of your corporate internship program? Are you providing a true internship program or a work experience? Internship programs are crucial to your company and our industry building a pipeline of talent for the future. Those companies who truly commit to building an effective program will attract and maintain some of the best talent. Below are a few tips to help ensure you’re on the right track.

Have a detailed project list prepared as you begin the search process.
Students usually search for the ‘perfect’ internship and they entertain multiple offers before making a final decision. The most desired internships provide real experiences and not meaningless busy work. Having a detailed job description and project list in mind will help you communicate with the students about their day-to-day activities and insure they know as much as possible about the internship beforehand, so both parties can make the right decision.
Have students develop goals or contribution statements for their internship.
As we stress the importance of having outlined goals and tasks ready for your intern when they come on board, it is also important to have them develop the same. Have students identify what they hope to gain from the internship as well as what they hope you, as their employer, will gain from having them on board.
Schedule time at the end of the internship for interns to present their final projects.
Interns spend a lot of time working on one or more projects for your company. Just as other employees value the opportunity to showcase their work, interns value that opportunity as well. Any manager who has worked with the student in any capacity, from the recruiting to supervisor roles, should be invited to be in the audience, as well as upper management and administrators. The giving of your time to listen to their presentations, through asking questions and sharing feedback, interns will see your company values the them, and the internship mission.
Emphasize constant communication and evaluation of performance throughout the experience – not just on the last day.
Millennials (the generation of students now entering the workforce), crave constant feedback. Begin your communication before their first day on the job. A growing problem many employers face is students shopping around for the best possible internship right up to the day they begin. Once you have a student who has accepted an internship with your company, send emails, and invite them to company gatherings and other events before they begin. On-boarding isn’t an overnight process. During the internship, as a supervisor, schedule weekly time to visit with the intern and discuss projects and/or progress and provide feedback. The extra effort on your end will provide a greater experience for the student and produce quality work for your company.

Over the past 4 years AgCareers.com has offered a tool to help companies evaluate and benchmark their internship program against other agribusiness organizations participating in the project. The short surveys developed and administered by AgCareers.com are used at both the beginning and end of the internship. The first assesses the student’s expectations regarding how the hiring and on-boarding process went; the second survey accesses used at the end of the internship accesses if their expectations were met as well as collecting some positive and constructive feedback from the interns.

Thos who participate receive two different reports, one at the completion of each survey. Each survey consists of three parts:

Individual Company Report
The individual company report provides graphs looking at just your organization’s results as well as feedback/comments made by your interns (provided anonymously).

Overall Participant Report
This portion of the analysis allows you to look at what other organizations participating in the survey have received for results. A combination of graphs and comments representing all participating groups are included in this section. One important note – You will be provided a list of all participating companies, however all organization results will be kept anonymous. For this survey, all organizations are labeled as ‘a’, ‘b’, ‘c’, etc. We will inform you of your companies letter so that you can make the comparison.

Survey
A copy of the survey questions.

"Even if you're confident in your internship program, the AgCareers.com internship report will provide additional insight," says Steve German, Employment Manager at Growmark.

The internship program at Growmark has been successfully established for many years, but German says the survey helped identify an area in which it could be improved.

"Three years ago, we scored high in every question that was asked except for on-boarding, in which we were ranked very low," says German.

After viewing the survey results, Growmark implemented changes to improve their on-boarding process. The next year, the survey showed that Growmark was in the top 10 percent for on-boarding.

"We went from lowest to highest because of the internship survey and assistance from AgCareers.com," says German. "After making such a giant leap in on-boarding, we are destined to keep participating in the survey every year."

If you are interested in benchmarking your companies internship program contact Ashley Collins, Education Coordinator at AgCareers.com today.

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