Internship Program: Don’t Just Give Interns Compensation, Build a Connection

Internship Program: Don’t Just Give Interns Compensation, Build a Connection

An internship program may help fresh graduates or senior students prepare for employment. But do they get meaningful networks and connections, or simply go away with compensation?

According to the National Survey of College Internships (NSCI),  67.9% of students participate in internships to gain experience in a particular career they want to pursue. 24.8% of others are pursuing internships to explore career options. Now we see just how exciting internships are for them.

Moreover, when 85% of jobs are filled by networking, social capital remains the other key currency to move interns forward. 

It Should Be a Win-win for Both Employers and Employees

Our young and growing company always has more work to do. We have strategies that must be implemented, and projects must be carried out. So bringing in an intern to help us deal with our workload seems compelling. But wait, do we hear from them too?

Well, internships must be structured to offer the trainee meaningful experiences and learning opportunities while also benefiting the employer. So what is an internship program? What does an internship mean for both?

For employers:

  • Internships offer the opportunity to identify and develop future employees.
  • It can also provide a cost-effective way of getting additional support for specific projects or tasks.
  • An internship can also bring fresh ideas and insights to the organization.
  • Internships also benefit businesses by offering a pool of possible employees who already know the company’s culture and workplace.

For employees:

  • The internship program allows students to apply what they have learned at school in a real-life context.
  • It can also help employees acquire skills and knowledge that will help them in their future careers and improve their chances of being hired by the company.
  • Internships can help employees decide if a particular career path suits them.
  • Internships provide them with valuable work experience and a chance to network and connect.

4 Keys to a Meaningful Internship Program 

Now that we’ve highlighted the term ‘meaningful connection’ in the context of internships, so, how to create an internship program meaningfully? Here’s where we should begin:

1. Think more than just an hourly salary.

Only focusing on fees may help us manage our day-to-day workload, but we don’t find any more meaningful networks or connections there. Then how about giving them a budget for meals? 

The purpose of the lunch grants is to help the trainees have time to communicate with their colleagues, maybe in the canteen or the café across the street. That paves them a way to create relationships among people.

2. Provide meaningful, relevant feedback.

There is one thing we often do wrong. According to the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, managers can provide general support for the welfare of trainees but are less likely to provide meaningful, task-specific feedback that interns want.

Yes, good feedback can make a meaningful difference to an internship program. It identifies areas for improvement, addresses specific issues and provides constructive criticism to improve the student experience. 

For managers, it can also offer helpful information to the program and help them fine-tune their approach to achieve better results.

3. Let them know they’re part of the team.

Show our trainees that their work is aligned with the enterprise-wide goal. Whether their contribution is aligned with sales needs, marketing approach or brand development. The key is to let them know they’re part of the team.

Yes, creating a feeling of belonging is essential for interns. Trainees who feel part of a team are more likely to feel valued, motivated and committed to their work. It may also lead to a more positive on-the-job experience and improve their satisfaction with the program.

As a result, when 70% of employers offer them full-time jobs at the end of the internship period, up to 80% of students accept offers based on satisfaction.

4. Give them a ‘walking encyclopedia’.

Assigning a mentor to an intern can be a helpful step in forging relationships and improving the intern’s overall experience. Make sure they have a buddy who can help them adjust to the workplace, respond to questions and guide them.

Select someone who understands the company’s culture, knows the role of the trainee, and is willing to invest time to help the trainee succeed. Also, make sure we have quality training for them. We can provide buddies with the skills and knowledge they need to perform effectively in their roles and help trainees reach their full potential. 

At the end of the day, if they don’t land their career in our company, at least they can shine bright with others.


Let’s step back for a second. Do we know what internship means? Let us cite the University of Maryland‘s definition: “An internship program is a professional learning experience that offers meaningful, practical work related to a student’s field of study or career interest.” Now we know what to do with the word “meaningful” in there.