Creating the Perfect Internship Programme

For the majority of young adults, an internship represents that first step, the initiation phase where you go from being a student to a professional worker. Internships are meant to help young people apply what they’ve learned all their lives and apply them to the real world. It has become a bit of an urban legend, that an internship at a respectable organisation means more than the actual degree.

However, reality has the tendency to prove us wrong most of the time. In the past few years, numerous internship programmes have come under intense scrutiny for being a very legal way of exploiting young people by paying them close to nothing, if they actually decide to pay them anything. Then again, it must be said that not every organisation looks to take advantage of young adults and offer them internships where they are being used. You might be one of the lucky ones who can say that your internship programme was meaningful both professionally and personally.

Ideally, it is best to recruit interns that are geographically close to your base of operations. Drafting young people from local universities is just common sense. Alternatively, if you recruit someone from a different location to work for a summer, it is highly unlikely they will return to you for a full-time job if you offer them one.

There are a number of factors that must be weighed in when it comes to recruiting the best and offering them the best conditions to thrive.

Firstly, it is highly recommended to recruit early in the year. If you plan to organise a summer internship, if you start looking in the spring then all the best talents are already taken. Fall seems like the ideal time to start recruiting if you wish to have the best possible students available. Obviously, this requires being proactive as an organisation.

Secondly, make their first day amazing. Keep in mind that they are most likely nervous about their first day and they didn’t sleep too much due to their anxiety. Some of the following things may help ease them in: someone greeting them as soon as they come in, make sure their offices are properly set and ready to work and take them to lunch.  Furthermore, if you will have interns in various departments try and create opportunities for them to meet. This can be easily done by creating training and social sessions for them in order for them to get more accustomed to their surroundings.

  1. Offering your interns actual work

Everyone is scared of going to an internship and all they will have to do is deliver coffee. Some of the best ways in which to offer them meaningful work is to assign a project that will impact the way business is done. Give them the possibility to present their ideas and solutions in front of the executives and shareholders. You will be surprised how many good ideas may come from someone who is new in the place of business. More often than not, interns’ ideas are being implemented and have something extra to add to their CVs. Moreover, it gives the manager a clear idea of who they can recruit full-time after they finish their studies.

  1. Continuous feedback

Although it is fairly important to offer your interns meaningful work, it is as important to give them continuous feedback. Do not drop a project on them and then check their work in their very last day. For example, L’Oreal offers ongoing feedback considering it an integral part of the development of all their employees, either temporary or full-time. And that is not all. Interns have the possibility of providing feedback as well. L’Oreal considers that there should always be a dialogue between interns and managers, thus leading to better engagement levels and productivity.

  1. Compensation

In an article from the New York Times, it has been brought up to everyone’s attention that there are violations of labour laws when talking about unpaid internships. A few of the rules that are in place at the moment state that the internship should be related to an interns’ academic capabilities, interns should not displace full-time employees and that the company cannot obtain any immediate advantage from an intern’s work. In layman terms, internships should benefit interns, not organisations. All in all, the criteria mentioned lead towards the idea that internships should be financially compensated. After all, a successful internship must be a win for everyone involved in the process.

  1. Closing time

Request a summary of your interns’ experience at the end of the programme. This is a win-win situation for both parties. The interns have the opportunity to reflect on their experience and what they have learnt, whilst providing you with valuable information on how to improve office relations, communication, etc.

If there are interns who have impressed during their time at your organisation make sure to make them offers for a full-time position before they go back to school. This is a crucial step because not only does it offer you with a young and consistent new employee but it may also drive other interns in the future to seek your programme.

In their last day, offer them a small token of appreciation. It could be a keychain, a hat or a coat with the company logo on it. If he or she had a great experience within your organisation they will wear it proudly (plus, a little bit of advertising goes a long way).

Most companies think that when interns leave that is a job well done. This could not be more false. It is essential you keep in touch with them. Managers should make sure that whoever worked the closest with an intern touch base on a monthly basis. It is also important for interns to know that the work they have put in the projects they have been assigned is developing nicely.

Finally and this is more food for thought than anything else. Just think about how you would like to be treated if you were embarking on your first internship experience. You know very well what the difference is between being treated as an equal or as a ‘servant’. By applying just some of the ideas discussed in this article your organisation will see an increase in demand for students to come and take your internship programme.

There is a real value in providing companies with the tools to carry out regular organisational assessments and this is where Great People Inside comes to your aid. Our online platform offers the best solutions and tools for your company to thrive in every type of industry and any possible situation your organisation may find itself. In terms of lowering your employee turnover rates, we recommend our GR8 Full Spectrum assessment for hiring and 360° Survey for retention. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and a keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.

Request a free demo:



Overcoming the Recruitment Biases

Do you or anyone you know have a sixth sense when it comes to recruitment? Is that “sense” completely unbiased and effective? If you answered “yes”, then you are definitely lying to yourselves.

While it is, indeed, true that some people have much more success in recruitment then others,  this happens, most of the times, due to their abilities slowly developed over the course of time and multiple errors.

How do you make up your mind when confronted with a decision? Well, people tend to prefer one of the two following approaches:

One of these approaches is using the “gut feeling”, that has been proven to be successful for them over the years. The main problem with this approach is that it can never be reliable enough. No matter how many times it helped you make the right decision, it will still be just a game of dice next time you use it. And, on top of that, have you ever considered what exactly is this gut feeling and how does it work? Bruce Henderson, founder of the Boston Consulting Group, defined it as “the subconscious integration of all experiences, conditioning, and knowledge of a lifetime, including the cultural and emotional biases of that lifetime.” This doesn’t sound very professional when it comes to recruitment, does it?

The second approach that people use when facing a decision is what they imagine to be the rational analysis. This approach consists of trying to methodically examine all the available information and data in order to reach a conclusion. This may sound as unbiased as it can get, but is it?

In most cases, even while HR managers and CEOs adopt and implement programs that they believe to be free of bias, they still fall short of addressing unconscious biases. Dr. Banaji, a social psychologist at Harvard University, explains that “discrimination is veiled, not explicit, but rather more implicit, unconscious, because we ourselves are unaware of it”.

In his book, Everyday Bias, noted diversity consultant Howard J. Ross points to many studies indicating that these sorts of blindspots are ubiquitous in our lives.  “Virtually every important decision we make in life is influenced by these biases, and the more they remain in the unconscious, the less likely we are to make the best decisions we are able to make.”

Some of these biases include:

Confirmation bias: The tendency for people to seek out information that conforms to their preexisting views, and ignore information that goes against their views. For example, when an interviewer forms a distinct opinion about a candidate based on a minute piece of information such as the college they attended, before the actual interview, he or she is succumbing to confirmation bias. Great candidates may not make it to the interview or be perceived as less competent than others because of these assumptions. Organizations may decrease their chances of hiring great candidates due to interviewing confirmation bias.

Ingroup bias: The tendency to favor members of your own group (or those that you have more in common with). This bias can result in making poor hiring decisions by choosing a candidate entirely based on subjective criteria such as shared interests, hobbies, education, age, professional background or even similarities of appearance or name.

Selective perception: The process of cherry picking the information that we do like to perceive, while ignoring the ones that would contradict our beliefs. This goes hand in hand with the ingroup bias. When we find a candidate that matches our initial preferences, we tend to notice only his or hers positive features, while unconsciously filtering out all the data that would contravene our viewpoint.

Status quo bias: The fact that we would almost every time prefer the familiar things – the ones that we are already comfortable with. This bias prevents diverse hiring by making us prone to selecting the same type of employees that we have chosen in the past.

All of these could interfere with our reasoning, so what can we do in order to overcome all of these biases and use an objective judgment when recruiting candidates?

Anonymizing candidate selection is definitely helpful, but it’s far from enough. Consider using one of these methods to ensure that your organization’s hiring process is bias-free:

One way would be what Dan Hill, an internationally recognized expert on reading emotions based on facial micro expressions and the CEO of Sensory Logic, told us about at the Great People Inside Conference: The New World of Work in Romania (you can see the whole video by clicking here). “People don’t think their feelings; they feel them. So at Sensory Logic we bypass self-reported, cognitively filtered input by going straight to how people most naturally reflect and communicate their emotions: the face.”

For 16 years now, they’ve been both the pioneer and the most careful commercial  practitioner of applying facial coding as a research tool to help clients lower risks and optimize marketing, products and other business solutions. Facial coding enables them to scientifically yet non-invasively capture, quantify and analyze the emotions shown.

Another great way to make the best decisions would be to use exclusively the assessment systems in order to narrow down the number of possible candidates to only a few before you involve any human judgment. Afterwards, you can make the final decision by consulting with the HR managers that you trust the most.

Great People Inside provides easy-to-use tools and processes to attract, assess, match, select, onboard, manage, develop, benchmark and maintain workforces anywhere in the world.

Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation, can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.

Request a free demo:






Mlodinow, L., “Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior”