Five Reasons to Start an Internship Program Now

Five Reasons to Start an Internship Program Now

Many businesses, large, small or solo operations, toy with the idea of starting an internship program. Make no mistake, starting and running a successful internship program is a big committment, but one that pays you back in many ways (not all financial). If you have been mulling it over and can’t decide, here are five reasons to start an internship program now.

1. Create a pipeline of future employees

When you are ready to add full or part-time staff, what better source of candidates than the people you already know? More frequently companies are turning to their previous or current intern pools first to fill open positions. In fact, according to the 2016 NACE Survey, employers offering interns jobs is at a 13-year high,  “the average offer rate is 72.7 percent.” 

As senior manager of a national internship program for nearly five years, I saw this trend increase year after year. The number of my graduating seniors receiving job offers before graduation continued to climb. There are not always openings at the end of the internship period, but many companies would offer previous interns jobs 1-2 years later when a job did become available. 

2. Increase new employee retention

An internship is like a really long job interview. For 8-10 weeks or longer you have the opportunity to learn and observe if someone will be a fit for your team. For an intern, working at a company for a few weeks exposes them to the culture, management and work flow so they can determine if it is a fit for them as well.

One of the coolest calls I recieved as program manager was from a college recruiter at one of my host companies. Imagine my surpise when she told me one of my interns was being offered a job –  8 months before his graduation. He had impressed them so much over the summer that they knew they wanted to bring him on as soon as possible. 

“His plans materialized during the fall of his senior year when he received a call from DIRECTV offering him a position as a Production Operator. He gladly accepted his first job before he even got halfway through his senior year….. Eric didn’t have to go through additional multiple interviews to get the job. The 12-week internship he completed was enough for DIRECTV to know they wanted him on their team.” 

The Internship Manual: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting the Internship of Your Dreams, Sharise Kent

3. Affordable help to grow your business

Internships can be paid or unpaid. There are however, many rules and regulations regarding the criteria for hiring paid vs unpaid interns. Even with a paid internship program, the compensation for interns is generally less than the cost of hiring a full or part-time employee. Affordable help should not be your main motivation.

The average private college tuition is just below $35,000 and the average public college tuition is right around $10,000. Those prices don’t include room and board. So, before you ask a young person to forgo a paying job for a free internship, be aware that while they would love the experience, they simply can’t afford to work for free.

Even when working at a small non-profit, we paid our interns. The help they provided in assisting us in meeting our mission was useful and very appreciated. I worked to integrate them into our team and in addition to a paycheck, provided learning opportunities they would not get in class. In turn, we received the assistance we needed during certain times a year, without the cost of onboarding new employees.

4. Motivated team members breath new life


Interns are largely super motivated new members of your team. For an intern, the opportunity to take what they have been learning in a classroom and see how it applies to real life is what they have been waiting for. Also, they are trying to put their best foot forward in hopes of getting hired. Motivated new team members can bring a shot of energy and enthusiasm that can reinvigorate others around them.

Working in higher education and career placement for nearly 20 years keeps me young. While traditional interns have much to learn, their is something to be said for their youth and energy.

5. Fresh perspective

When your brainstorming sessions are filled only with people who have been with the company for years, a fresh new perspective from an outsider might provide the spark for some new ideas. Current college students and recent graduates are aware of new trends, new music and may possess social media skills you need to reach a different generation. Hiring interns can bring fresh ideas and new approaches to old problems. 

“This is not your coffee getting, paper copying, learn nothing type of deal. It was actually an intern who first proposed the idea of using text as the main platform and interns contributed greatly to the current website design.” – Kelly Peeler, NextGen Vest

Creating an internship program is about leading, teaching end empowering young people with knowledge, skills and training for future success. If you are not ready to lead and teach, you might not be ready to put together a winning internship program. 

6. Giving back and being a mentor (bonus reason)

The best internship programs understand that the bigger picture is about helping develop future talent whether or not they will be working for you. Being a mentor, serving young people who are eager for success and giving students a look at the reality of what it is to work in their professions should be high on your list of reasons to start an internship program.

Great internship programs are about creating an experience that will benefit the intern and the business.

If you are ready to take the steps and get started with your own internship program, download my free guide, 10 steps to launching an internship program. Don’t keep waiting, make a move in the right direction and start planning your program now.

How to Salvage Your Summer Internship

How to Salvage Your Summer Internship

You’ve reached the halfway point of your summer internship and it has pretty much sucked. If you are thinking about quitting, I have a few tips to help salvage your summer before it is too late. Even if you do have the internship of your dreams, do these things to make the experience even better.

Shift Perspective

You feel like all you do are mundane and mindless tasks? Perhaps a simple shift in perspective will allow you to dig deeper and see how all of the pieces fit together. I’m not trying to say that getting coffee has a higher meaning, but some boring projects could teach you more than you think, if you take the right perspective.


Interns that I hired in my office often had the not so sexy task of doing data entry of student information. I  always did my best to explain how the pipeline of recruitment worked and what happened to those names and contacts once they were entered into the database. In some circumstances, I was able to let them attend a recruitment event with me so they could see just how those names were gathered.

By putting everything into perspective, it gave the interns the opportunity to understand the entire recruitment cycle and how we developed a marketing strategy. There are projects that you might be working on that have a bigger impact than you think, not exciting but necessary.

Ask for more challenging work

If you continue to prove yourself by completing the simple tasks you are given, don’t be afraid to ask for more challenging work. Let your immediate supervisor know that you are capable of doing more and giving more to the department. Sometimes it is about letting them know that you are ready to take on additional duties. That initiative could go a long way into letting your supervisor know you are serious about learning and your contribution to the company.

Make moves to expand your network

As you complete your projects for your supervisor, ask if it is okay for you to assist other people in your department or other departments. By networking with others you can share your desire to learn more about the company and new skills. Along the way you could make a connection with a potential mentor. If no one has additional work for you, consider using your time to conduct informational interviews so you can learn more about other jobs in the company.

Take Initiative

Part of being a stand out intern and eventually a promising young professional is the ability to bring fresh ideas. Take time and observe what is going on around you. Learn the processes. By learning, observing and asking questions, you can begin to think of simple improvements to your assignments. Perhaps there is a faster or more efficient way to do something. Bring it to your supervisor and it might be adapted as a new way to do business. Don’t be discouraged if your idea isn’t implemented, keep bringing new things forward.

The summer internship period is almost over. Finish strong. If you recently graduated and you are trying to turn your internship into a job offer, check out these 9 Moves That Could Take You From Intern to New Hire.

Looking for a Last-Minute Internship?

Looking for a Last-Minute Internship?

While finding a summer internship in late April or early May isn’t the ideal way to go about it, you can still get out there and make it happen. In a recent article, Daniel Bortz interviewed me along with a few other experts to give you tips to make the last-minute internship search process a success.

How to Snag a Great Last-Minute Internship on

Don’t have an internship lined up for the summer? Take a deep breath. It’s not too late—so long as you’re willing to put in the work.

It’s true: You’re a bit behind the game, as deadlines for applications at many companies with formal internship programs have already passed.

Now for the good news: There are still internship opportunities up for grabs.

“Many small and medium-sized companies don’t realize they need interns until April or May rolls around,” says Lauren Berger, CEO of, “so they post their internship openings relatively late.”

Since you’re in a time crunch, you’ll need to ace the application process. You’re probably thinking, “Yeah, right. Easier said than done.” Well, not necessarily—if you follow these steps.

Focus on the right internships

The last thing you want to do is panic and spend your time applying to every single internship you can find. “You need to take a targeted approach,” says Sharise Kent, author of The Internship Manual: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting the Internship of Your Dreams. “If you’re a freshman who is applying to internships typically reserved for juniors, you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage,” says Kent. Focus on programs that fit your skills and level of experience.

Moreover, make the best use of your time. Before you spend hours applying to two- to three-month-old internship postings, pick up the phone and ask the company whether the position is still available, suggests Stephanie Waite, senior associate director of Yale’s Office of Career Strategy.

Customize your application

Recruiters and hiring managers can tell within 10 seconds if you’ve sent a generic application, says Berger. To stand out, you’ll need to tailor your resume and cover letter to each internship—and by focusing on five internship applications instead of 50, you’ll have time to do this.

Incorporate language from the job posting and the company’s mission statement into your resume, says Berger. Using the right keywords will help your resume pass through an application tracking system.

Use this same strategy to help you write a killer cover letter. “It’s all about dropping the company’s name throughout the letter,” says Berger. “That way, when the hiring manager reads it, they feel like the letter was written just for them.”

Keep the cover letter brief; Kent recommends writing three to four paragraphs. “It doesn’t have to be a full page,” she says.

Carve your own internship opportunity

Some companies simply don’t have established internship programs. Many startups, for example, can’t afford to hire an internship coordinator. Meanwhile, “a lot of companies haven’t hired interns before, but they’d be open to it,” says Waite.

If this is the case at one of your prospective companies, take initiative by creating your own internship at the organization. Find recruiters either through the job posting or on social media, and reach out to them directly. Be mindful of your approach, though. Ask about the company’s needs and whether they’ve ever considered hiring an intern, rather than immediately requesting an internship.

Even better: Identify problem areas at the organization and show how you can provide value, says Kent. For example, if the company isn’t active on social media, offer to help develop their strategy.

Be willing to commit

If you’re short on time (e.g., the application is due tomorrow), you may have to pull an all-nighter to get the work done or—gasp!—spend the weekend in the library.

But for the right internship opportunity, it’s worth putting your social life on standby, says Eric Woodard, director of the office of fellowships and internships at the Smithsonian and author of The Ultimate Guide to Internships: 100 Steps to Get a Great Internship and Thrive in It.

Remember to proofread

This might sound obvious, but when you’re under time constraints, you’re more likely to make typos, Waite says. Hence, you need a second pair of eyes—ideally from someone who is an expert in the field.

Have a mentor or a professor proof your resume, since the person knows the industry lingo, advises Waite.

To help you stay organized in your last minute frenzy, download my free Internship Manual Toolkit. Your search can end successfully if you get moving on your project with laser like focus.



Employers Want Internship Experience Over Everything Else

Employers Want Internship Experience Over Everything Else

Guest Post by Jeannie Burlowski, an academic strategist and speaker. Her newly released 344-page book LAUNCH: How to Get Your Kids Through College Debt-Free and Into Jobs They Love Afterward lays out clear, step-by-step strategies that empower parents to get their kids through high quality, best-fit colleges debt-free — and then directly into jobs they love afterward.

Do you believe that myth, “If I don’t attend a top school, I won’t get a good job when I graduate”?

(You can see the article I wrote debunking this myth here.)

The graph at the bottom of today’s post is going to make you feel instantly better.

For every student who fears that their college isn’t good enough, here’s great news. Today I’m featuring excerpts from a brilliant article written by Derek Thompson in The Atlantic.

Thompson boldly tackles the question:

“Do employers really care what college you went to? What do they actually look at when deciding whether or not to hire a new college grad?”

Thompson writes:

When I was 17, if you asked me how I planned on getting a job in the future, I think I would have said: Get into the right college. When I was 18, if you asked me the same question, I would have said: Get into the right classes. When I was 19: Get good grades.

But . . .

When employers recently named the most important elements in hiring a recent graduate, college reputation, GPA, and courses finished at the bottom of the list.

At the top, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, were experiences outside of academics:Internships, jobs, volunteering, and (relevant) extracurriculars.

“When employers do hire from college, the evidence suggests that academic skills are not their primary concern,” says Peter Cappelli, a Wharton professor and the author of a new paper on job skills.

Work experience is the #1 thing employers look for in a new hire candidate.

“Work experience,” Cappelli says, “is the crucial attribute that employers want even for students who have yet to work full-time.”

Here’s the good news to pack up and take home:

Thompson says: “When you drill down into how a college’s reputation affects hiring, employers’ mean rating of ‘regionally known’ colleges and universities was practically indistinguishable from their rating for elite schools.”

To dive a little deeper into this subject, read my article on why paid internships are the best internships: You can read that article here.

Then read my very popular article on “Expensive Education Leads to A Happier Life. True or False? (The Answer Might Surprise You.)” You can find that article here.

My suggestion to upcoming grads and college students?

Don’t believe the hype that says: “If you don’t get into a good college, you won’t be able to get a good job when you graduate.” Instead: “Plan ahead and do 2- 3 paid internships during college – it’s one of the best ways to set yourself up to get a great job when you graduate!”

Jeannie Burlowski is a full-time consultant, author, and conference speaker. She gives parents a clear, step-by-step checklist so that they can set their kids up to succeed brilliantly in college, graduate completely debt-free, and move directly into careers they excel at and love. She is the author of LAUNCH: How to Get Your Kids Through College Debt Free and Into Jobs They Love Afterward.