How To Create A Small Business Internship Program in 3 Easy Steps

How To Create A Small Business Internship Program in 3 Easy Steps

It doesn’t matter if you are a large or small business, creating and implementing an internship program could be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.  Here are some easy steps to start you on your way:


1.  Create A Business Case

As with any project planning, you want to clearly identify the end result and build a business case showing a positive Return On Investment (ROI).   Here are a few questions to get you started:

How will an internship program…

Achieve project and busy season results?

Support your entry-level hiring strategy?

Save on recruiting and training dollars?

Grow your company?

Ensure key skills are not lost?


2.  Conduct Research

Do your research within your own company and industry, identifying best practices to gain leadership buy in.  You may need to work with Human Resources to gain diversity and hiring demographics to justify your program.

There are many free resources on reputable sites like the National Association of Colleges and Employers or the Society of Human Resources Management, as well as purchasable reports from other industry memberships.


3.  Identify Program Structure

There is no reason to make your program “unmanageable” in order to compete with Fortune 500 companies. Most large companies are government contractors that are required to conduct and track diversity outreach, subsequently increasing their diverse workforce.  Their initiatives support both Affirmative Action Plan requirements as well as company overarching talent acquisition culture and diversity programs.

Some Fortune 500 companies may have a department of one (1) but they have many other resources to support campus visits and school relationships.  They also have deep pockets to prompt quick results from career services offices.  Campus recruiting may not have a good return on investment for some small employers.

Keep it simple and only include the need to have, not nice to have components of your program. Pick and choose what you want to utilize from the research in steps #1 and #2 and include the following:

Soft and technical skills required and preferred.  All candidates must meet required skills.  For example, you may be open to all undergraduates with a required 3.0 GPA, but prefer juniors and seniors.

Work projects that need support in the summer, fall, and spring semesters.

Administrative tasks that can fill in the downtime gaps between project work steps (maximum 10% of job duties)

Post Jobs on InternAlliance, a social recruiting platform built for small businesses and lean organizations.  Job posting requirements will be directly matched to all student skills in your area with only those 100% qualified showing in your inbox. Track and share with hiring managers, and view reports showing the ROI.  Link your postings on all your company social media channels and ask employees to repost.

Hiring Manager Training in interviewing, onboarding, and situational leadership practices to ensure standardization across the company.  Phone and video interviewing will save money and are very effective.

By following the three (3) steps above, you will have an excellent foundation for an internship program.