Internships are highly stressed on college campuses to students. Across the country faculty, career services and administration all promote that an internship will open the door to future career opportunities, will give the student an applied experience in the field, and help them grow their professional network. But what’s in it for the employer? Why should you and/or your company invest your time, energy, and dollars into an internship program?
The obvious #1 reason to have an intern – succession planning! Look around your company. How many of your employees will reach retirement age in the next 5 years? According to the 2015/2016 AgCareers.com Agribusiness HR Review, over 50% of employers in agriculture report, 1-5% of their workforce will be retiring. Depending on the size of your company that could be one person or five people or it could be 50 or more. Do you have people who are the slightest bit trained to do the jobs that those soon-to-be retirees are currently doing? Interns are the beginning step to identifying those replacements. If you provide a successful experience for your intern(s) you’ll reap the added benefit of developing employer brand ambassadors for your company on their campuses. That will pay dividends for years to helping your recruitment efforts as your workforce continues to age and consider retirement.
‘If you always do what you’ve always done, then you’ll always get what you’ve always got.’ It’s a tongue twister but it’s true. Sometimes you need to add a little fresh perspective to your organization. Interns will bring new ideas, new techniques, and enthusiasm to your workplace. You’ll have task and projects for them to complete and they may have a smarter approach to getting those task completed quicker. Study their techniques and learn from them, you may find new approaches that you can implement in various areas of your business to ‘work smarter not harder.’ Once they’ve spent twelve weeks immersed in your business have them pitch ideas to you or management for new products, new customer service techniques, etc. Some ideas may be unobtainable and a little ‘pie in the sky,’ but will help spur new thinking that can help your company be more innovative and profitable!
We all have those items on our to-do list that we just haven’t had time to get to. Interns can be a great way to clean up that list while testing out the waters for a future hire and gaining new perspective for your company. You must be careful to have a balance between task and projects. It will be critical for the student’s overall experience to be positive, that you’re assigning them a balance of projects where they can spend some independent time and utilize higher order thinking skills to accomplish a goal. As well as basic task that are related to daily operations of the business. Managing an intern is an investment of 20-30% of your time but if utilized correctly they can also free up time in your schedule for more aggressive projects for yourself that often lead to bigger profits!
Do these ideas have your wheels turning and ready to take the next step in offering an internship program? Attend AgCareers.com’s Internship Programs that Yield Results 2-day workshop. Learn more about the steps to planning, recruiting, and managing interns and hear firsthand from students what made their internship experiences stellar!