Figuring out how to start an internship program for your company can be a daunting task. Many companies postpone a process that can have exponential benefits for their business. In this article, we’ll guide you through the simple steps for developing a coveted internship program, including:

  1. Creating a purposeful opportunity
  2. Using the best recruiting practices
  3. Being a step ahead of the competition

Discover the many benefits of hiring global talent. An internship program is the perfect way to increase your brand visibility and engage the best entry-level talent.  

At Intrax Global Internships, we’ve paired interns with exciting opportunities for skilled international talent for twenty years. We work with leading companies to offer enriching industry experiences and unparalleled personal and professional growth for our participants. We make it our mission to create impactful opportunities that empower young professionals to become global citizens. Contact us today to find out how we can help you, or request more information to learn more about what we do.


How To Start an Internship Program Step 1: Create a Purposeful Opportunity

Successful internship programs offer participants the chance to make their mark in their new careers. The best way to attract international talent is to create a purposeful role for your internship program.

In this section, we’ll explore how you can create a purposeful opportunity and approach the planning stages of your internship program with confidence. Some of the key points we’ll focus on include:

  • Benefits of starting an internship program
  • Types of internships
  • Different internship roles

Let’s start by looking closer at internship programs and how they benefit your business. 

How Starting an Internship Program Benefits Your Business

Starting an internship program provides your company with exciting benefits. To help you understand what you’ll gain by hosting an intern, we’ve outlined some of the most positive aspects of hiring interns. Some of the benefits your company will experience include:

  1. Accessing diverse skill sets: Interns bring skills and knowledge that current employees may lack, especially in areas like technology, social media, or specialized software.
  2. Supporting specific projects: Interns can assist with short-term or specialized projects that may not justify hiring a full-time employee.
  3. Transferring cross-generational knowledge: Interns can help bridge generational gaps and facilitate knowledge transfer between older and younger employees.
  4. Improving your company’s reputation: Offering internships can enhance a company’s reputation, making it more attractive to potential employees and customers. Programs demonstrate a commitment to developing new talent.

Interns offer more than a youthful energy to your team. Students and new graduates are full of skills and new ideas. Additionally, newly graduated interns offer a fresh perspective. Tackle challenges with someone who has a different take on the task at hand.

Hiring interns is a cost-effective way to access skilled workers and provide a rewarding opportunity that is rich in hands-on industry experience. Interns are highly enthusiastic to learn about their field of interest through your program. Your business will reap the benefits of connecting with driven and skilled emerging talent in the process.

Determine the Type of Internship Program

It’s important to determine the type of internship you’re going to offer before developing your program. When considering how to start an internship program at your company, it’s best to understand where an intern will fit within your business. To help you narrow down the type of program you’ll offer, we’ll explore the following types of opportunities:

  • Department-specific
  • Industry-specific 
  • Administrative

Every company offers different experiences that enrich an entry-level candidate’s thirst for knowledge. When determining the type of internship program you want to deliver, consider the specific opportunities your company has to offer. 

Do you need someone to work for a specific team? Or are you looking for someone with a critical understanding of your company’s niche? Identifying the areas within your business that will benefit from utilizing an intern will help determine the type of internship program you’ll create.

If a specific department within your company has a big project coming up, then developing an internship within that team creates an exceptional opportunity to provide assistance. The intern will get first-hand experience and your department’s workload will be reduced.

Perhaps you’re anticipating a busy quarter and need the help of a new graduate in your field. Offering a more general role is a rewarding way to help an intern get industry experience and introduce someone who can float across departments. This provides a more general industry experience that improves a company’s efficiency.

Alternatively, your company may need more general assistance. Finding an intern who is interested in your company’s niche and capable of providing administrative support is a great way to improve overall performance and support an individual’s professional growth.

The type of program you choose depends on the specific work you need assistance with. When administering a program you must determine a role that is purposeful and rewarding to ensure your internship is an attractive and useful opportunity.

Define the Perfect Internship Role

The next step in how to start an internship program for your company is to define the role you need. Often, there is no single role that will meet your company’s every need. Each internship program you offer will change from the last one. It is best to begin by creating one role with a specific purpose at a time when starting to develop an internship program.

Be clear on the duration of your internship program and the responsibilities the intern will fulfill. Create a structure that will assist the team that is hosting the intern. Create an outline around who will be managing the intern, their specific duties, and the professional growth milestones they’ll help the intern to achieve. Finally, identify exactly what the wider purpose of the internship role is. This will help to avoid any confusion or miscommunication during the program about the intern’s tasks and responsibilities. 

Let’s look at an example of how you can clearly define an internship position. Your marketing team needs support for an upcoming campaign. An intern will assist in the creation of content to lighten your team’s workload in the lead-up to the campaign. The intern’s role will be outlined as follows:

  • Program duration: 3 months
  • Responsibilities: Content creation for social media, email marketing, and blogs
  • Reports to: Campaign Manager
  • Growth milestones: Independent content idea generation, measurable email conversion improvement, and development of SEO-friendly copywriting.
  • Wider purpose of this role: To assist the marketing team in creating content to promote an upcoming campaign. Our team hopes to give an intern hands-on experience creating content and generating ideas that will positively impact audiences and drive engagement. 

Already, your team has a clear understanding of what the intern’s daily tasks will look like. There’s also a clear understanding of the responsibilities an intern will take on throughout the program, and the milestones the Campaign Manager will support. Use this process for developing the different roles you’ll need as you expand your internship program.

How To Start an Internship Program Step 2: Use the Best Recruiting Practices

Recruiting practices are an important part of starting an internship program for your company. Without the right methods, you’re sure to struggle to find the right candidates and keep them interested in your program. Employing best practices for your recruitment is a crucial step toward creating an impressive program.

We’ll explore the ways you can apply the best recruiting practices to your internship program, including:

  • Creating hiring goals
  • Improving your onboarding practices
  • Accessing a global talent pool

Create Clear Hiring Goals

When gearing up to publicize your internship program, ensuring you have a clear set of hiring goals helps things run smoothly. You’ll be able to see at a glance which applicants meet your needs and which don’t. Rather than figuring this out when you’re sifting through applications, putting in the work ahead of time can help you write an effective job listing that does the work for you. Consider the following questions when developing your hiring goals.

When identifying what you’re looking for in a candidate: 

  • What type of skills do you need your intern to have? 
  • What does their background look like? 
  • What are their qualifications?

When considering your adaptability for a role: 

  • How flexible are you when it comes to the right candidate? 
  • Are you willing to change your program’s delivery method if it means hiring the right person?
  • How else could you make this role more adaptive?

When determining your boundaries and limitations: 

  • How long will you accept applications? 
  • When will you aim to respond to all candidates? 
  • When will the program start and how long will it go for?

By answering the questions above, you’re more likely to find the right candidates effectively and with ease. Ensuring you know exactly what you’re looking for in an applicant simplifies the process for all parties involved. As you go through the hiring process, you'll have a checklist to find the right intern. 

Implement the Best Onboarding Practices

When learning how to start an internship program at your company, onboarding is an aspect of the process that goes without a second thought. Like most companies, you already have hiring and onboarding processes in place, what’s there to worry about?

Onboarding methods for interns aren’t identical to hiring experienced workers. For many interns, your internship program is their first time being exposed to their field of choice. Having compassionate and considered onboarding processes that support entry-level talent makes a difference when introducing an internship program at your company.

Take the time to look at your current onboarding processes. Take your strategies and processes and adapt them to a younger, less experienced, person. Can you ramp up your ability to support and educate an employee with your current processes?

We recommend considering the following when implementing the best onboarding practices for interns:

  • Be friendly: While this sounds simple enough, it’s important to remember that your program can be an intimidating experience for an intern so try to create a welcoming environment. Ensure that you make them feel valued, comfortable, and seen. This will assist them in easing into their role and help to create a strong relationship with your intern during the program.
  • Be clear: In every aspect of an internship program, ensure that your instructions and processes are communicated clearly. From their responsibilities to how to respond to challenges, making sure you have clear pathways for communication and support will help encourage an intern to speak up when unsure and complete their tasks efficiently.
  • Be future-focused: Interns are driven to enhance their skills and gain experience. Creating a roadmap for their professional growth is a great way to support them and stay future-focused. Set up goals for them to achieve and new responsibilities to unlock throughout their program as it will help them to feel purposeful and driven to achieve.

Access a Global Talent Pool

To hire the most qualified candidates, consider opening your internship program to international candidates. Creating a renowned internship program comes from creating opportunities that support people who are driven and highly invested in your industry. Expanding your program to global talent means that you’re open to bringing in the very best person for the job.

When you hire internationally your teams significantly advance. You’ll access a range of skills that may not be as accessible through local talent. Coming from different cultural backgrounds, international interns have diverse professional backgrounds that lend themselves to insightful industry knowledge and practices. You and your team will be working with someone who has a unique perspective on your day-to-day challenges and tasks. 

By hiring from a global talent pool you’re also increasing your company’s diversity and inclusion practices. Improve your team’s cultural awareness as you bring in the best talent from around the world to contribute to your internship program. You’ll find that hiring an international candidate is an enriching experience for everyone involved in your internship program as you’ll have plenty to learn from each other.

How To Start an Internship Program Step 3: Be a Step Ahead of the Competition

Your internship program is a great way to introduce your business to entry-level talent who are deeply interested in your industry. To make sure you’re attracting candidates who meet the needs of your program it is essential to stand out against your competitors. Creating an internship program that provides an immersive industry experience is the first step in creating a reputable internship.

In this section, we’ll explore the different ways you can make your program more enriching and attractive to global talent, including:

  1. Offering flexible options
  2. Understanding J-1 visas
  3. Working with Intrax Global Internships

At Intrax Global Internships, our mission is to assist companies around the world in finding the best international talent. Request more information to learn how our team of experts can help you hire international interns. We simplify the legalities across borders—whether interning remotely or in person.

Flexible Internship Program Options

To ensure your internship program appeals to a wide range of qualified candidates, creating flexible options is a surefire way to stand out. Offering different delivery methods that suit a candidate’s specific needs means your program is more likely to appeal to a diverse range of candidates.

The types of program options we’ll explore include:

  • Virtual
  • In-person
  • Hybrid

Virtual internships are a cost-effective option for delivering an internship program. Work with interns around the world with ease. Through a virtual program, interns can get the hands-on experience they’re looking for without having to leave their homes. It’s a great option for students or recent graduates who are interested in dipping their toes into their field of choice without having to uproot their lives. 

In-person internship programs are a more immersive experience. Offering interns an opportunity to work alongside you and your team is a great way to provide invaluable industry experience and help entry-level talent get out of their comfort zone.

Hybrid programs are a flexible way to introduce an intern to the best of both in-person and virtual internships. Whether you hire a local or global candidate, offering a hybrid opportunity ensures your intern has a balance of office exposure and remote flexibility. For international candidates, the flexibility of a hybrid internship can lend itself to exploring your city or country. For local candidates, hybrid programs allow for a less intense commitment to working from a new space. 

The type of program delivery you offer depends on your ability to be fully present with your intern and support their professional development. Take the time to consider which delivery method you can most effectively achieve.


J-1 Visa Sponsorships

An important factor to consider when figuring out how to start an internship program for your company is visa sponsorships. Interns fall under the J-1 visa for individuals approved to participate in work study-based exchange visitor programs. 

Becoming a host for J-1 visa holders offers many benefits. Your company’s internship program will be considered an elevated opportunity that stands out against your industry competitors as you’ll be offering a more enriching experience. J-1 visa holders are high-achieving interns who are eager to make an impact in their industry. You’ll be bringing in the best global talent through the J-1 visa program.

J-1 visa sponsorship is a serious responsibility. You must ensure that you remain compliant with the Exchange Visitor Program’s many rules and stipulations, including the length of stay, hours available to an intern, and type of work. However, by offering a J-1 visa you’re ensuring that your internship program offers a valuable industry experience for skilled global interns. Committing to J-1 visa hosting is an effective way to cement your company’s internship program as a prestigious opportunity for global talent.

Work with Intrax Global Internships

At Intrax Global Internships, we know exactly how to start an internship program for your company. Our longstanding experience as a premier cultural exchange company has helped over 350,000 participants find enriching internship opportunities in over 100 countries. 

We know how to attract global talent, provide opportunities that inspire personal growth, and prepare individuals to succeed as global citizens. Our experienced team is dedicated to creating purposeful programs that change the world.

Work with us to start an internship program at your company that builds connections between cultures. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you deliver a highly successful internship program that makes your company stand out.

Oct 30, 2023
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