Organizational Wellness

Nurturing Talent: Best Practices for Hiring Interns at Your Organization

Jul 20, 2023
Last Updated May 16, 2024

Every HR department is well aware of the importance of finding and nurturing top talent for your organization. One way to effectively build a fantastic team is by investing in up-and-coming interns who can bring fresh perspectives, energy, and ambition to the workplace. They can help your organization today, and benefit you later by contributing to your long-term talent pipeline:  70% of interns are offered full-time positions, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers 2019 Internship & Co-op Survey Report.

By approaching intern hiring strategically — with best practices firmly in mind — you set yourself up for greater success today and tomorrow. Here’s what to know when setting up an internship program for your organization.


Define Your Internship Program

A well-planned program helps empower interns to contribute positively to your organization, contributing to them having a meaningful and hands-on experience with your organization. This is instrumental in fostering a positive brand image among potential future employees and can play a vital role in attracting top talent

Let's break down some of the foundation components of an effective internship program:

  • Clear goals: Clearly defined goals give direction to your interns' work. For instance, an intern in a marketing department might be given a goal to increase social media engagement by 15% over the course of their program.
  • Mentorship: Assigning a mentor to your intern can make their journey more enriching. A senior employee can provide guidance, for example, answering queries and helping the intern navigate developing a project plan for the first time.
  • Real-world experience: Identify projects interns can contribute to that further work of full-time employees. This could look like having an intern in a sales role make follow-up calls to prospective clients, or having a forestry intern help survey a worksite. 
  • Feedback: Regular feedback helps student interns learn and grow. This can be done through weekly one-on-one meetings where the manager discusses the intern's performance and areas of improvement, such as refining presentation skills.
  • Evaluation: End-of-internship evaluations give interns a clear picture of their overall performance. An evaluation might include assessing their contributions to key projects and their effectiveness in team collaboration.

Develop an Attractive Internship Job Description

A clear and enticing job description serves as your first point of contact with potential interns. It can attract high-quality candidates by providing them with a detailed understanding of what the role entails and what learning experiences they can expect.

Elements of a useful position description include:

  • Role overview: Provide a brief summary of the role and its purpose in the organization. For example, an intern in your product development team might be tasked with researching user behavior and assisting in the creation of new features.
  • Expectations: Detail what tasks the intern will be responsible for on a day-to-day basis. This could include everything from attending brainstorming sessions to writing reports.
  • Qualifications: Define the skills, education, and attributes ideal for the role. If you're hiring a tech intern, for example, they might need a working knowledge of specific programming languages.
  • Duration: Outline the length of the internship, whether it's for a summer, a semester, or a year.
  • Benefits: Highlight what the intern will gain from the experience, such as practical industry knowledge, networking opportunities, and mentorship.
  • Compensation: Make it clear whether it will be a paid position or if they will be working for college credit instead.
  • Application process: Clearly explain how to apply. Detail required materials, such as a resume or portfolio, and provide information on deadlines and timelines.

Find the Right Interns

Once you've defined your internship program and developed a well-crafted job description, the next step is to find the right hire. Casting a wide net in your search can help ensure that you attract a diverse range of qualified candidates.

Here are a few tips for finding the best intern candidates: 

  • Online Job Boards: Post your internship opportunity on various platforms such as online job boards, including Indeed and LinkedIn, where potential candidates are already actively seeking opportunities. 
  • College Recruitment: Reach out to universities and local colleges, both in-person and virtually, as they often have dedicated career services departments that can connect you with students. 
  • Career Fairs: Attend career fairs, whether physical or virtual, to meet potential interns. 
  • Social Media: Use the power of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share your internship opportunities with a broader audience.
  • Interviews: As this is the first interview process for many of these candidates, do what you can to make it a stress-free experience.  This could look like easing the nerves of a recent graduate or current college student by emphasizing that learning on the job is encouraged at your organization.  

Onboard and Mentor Interns

A thoughtful onboarding and training program sets the stage for an intern's success in your organization. It's a valuable opportunity to introduce them to your organizational culture and the specifics of their role, setting them up for a productive experience.

Effectively onboarding and mentoring interns typically involves:

  • Orientation: An orientation on their first day can involve a tour of the office (or a virtual tour if working remotely), introductions to key team members, and an overview of the company's values and culture.
  • Detailed role briefing: Offer a thorough explanation of the intern's role, outlining their responsibilities, key projects, and performance expectations. 
  • Mentor or buddy: Allocate a seasoned employee to act as a mentor or buddy. They can serve as a first point of contact for questions, provide guidance, and help the intern feel part of the team.
  • Training sessions: Schedule training sessions on tools and software they'll be using, or any industry-specific knowledge they need to understand.
  • Set regular check-ins: Establish a schedule for regular check-ins and feedback sessions. This will help monitor their progress, answer any questions, and provide constructive feedback.
  • Encourage social integration: Involve the interns in team building activities, social events, and meetings to ensure they feel part of the team and understand the broader context of their work.

Evaluate Intern Performance

Regular evaluations not only help your business assess the effectiveness of your internship program, but also aid in the intern's personal and professional growth. Constructive feedback can guide interns on areas to improve, while recognition of their contributions can boost their confidence and engagement. 

Here are a few examples of metrics you can use to evaluate your interns: 

  • Quality of work: This can be assessed like the work of other employees, such as through error rates, attention to detail, or depth of analysis in their work.
  • Communicationskills: An intern's verbal and written communication can be evaluated through their interactions with team members, presentations, or written reports.
  • Initiative: You can review times together where they showed initiative, such as suggesting a new idea, identifying a process improvement, or volunteering for additional responsibilities.
  • Learning and adaptability: Consider measuring how quickly and effectively the intern learns new skills or adapts to changes, such as developing proficiency with new tools or their flexibility with project changes.
  • Professionalism: Evaluate the intern's professional behavior, including punctuality, respect for others, adherence to company policies, and overall demeanor.   

Creating a Positive Intern Experience

There's a lot that goes into creating a positive employee experience for interns. Amid these many moving parts, it's important to not let wellness fall to the wayside. Interns are early in their career, so they often need navigating work-life wellness the same way they need guidance on any other professional skill. Without this, they run the risk of becoming burned-out and disengaged: Gen Z is already reporting the highest rates of burnout of any working-age generation.

You can empower your whole workforce to take care of their wellbeing with Wellhub. Our monthly memberships give workers access to thousands of wellness partners where they are. With flexible options including remote workouts,  in-person classes, and wellness app subscriptions, intern wellbeing couldn't be simpler! 

Speak with a Wellbeing Specialist today for help providing a great employee experience.

Company healthcare costs drop by up to 35% with Wellhub! (* Based on proprietary research comparing healthcare costs of active Wellhub users to non-users.) Talk to a Wellbeing Specialist to see how we can help reduce your healthcare spending!



Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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