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Tips for Developing a New Internship

Identify a Project

Hiring an intern can be a good solution for organizations that have a project to be completed, but not enough staff time to complete it. For example, an intern can redesign the website of the organization. The project should be something of value to the organization, but not of such high importance that it would be best if handled by a permanent staff member. Interns want to do meaningful work, and employers can use an intern's energy to complete a project that has been put off for too long. 

Define the Project

What specifically should the intern accomplish? Elements of the project should be specific and measurable in order to monitor progress. 

Identify a Supervisor

Internships are about learning, and a student intern needs guidance from a motivated supervisor. The supervisor should have appropriate knowledge and skills to "teach" the intern, such as knowing how to offer constructive feedback. A supervisor also needs to be available to the intern. Identify a staff member who could work effectively with an intern and with the given project. 

Identify Required Skills and Create a Position


Identifying the skills needed to complete the project and developing a detailed internship description helps an employer attract appropriate candidates for the internship. A strong position description also helps the CDC assess the best ways to promote the opportunity to student. 

Develop Learning Objectives for the Project

To make the internship successful for both the employer and the intern, a specific and measurable learning plan should be developed at the beginning of the internship. Establish specific, measurable objectives for the intern's work: the task to be completed, how it will be accomplished, and how it will be evaluated. Clear communication at the beginning of the internship can help avoid problems down the road. 

Orient the Intern to the Organization and the Position

Before the intern's first day, be sure to have their workspace established. The intern should have access to any resources needed to complete their assignments (e.g. phone, computer, etc.). Also, ensure all necessary paperwork is prepared. On the first day, the supervisor should orient the intern to the organization. 

  • Outline daily operations of the office: phone usage policies, break and lunch requirements, tardiness, etc.
  • Introduce the intern to all staff members in the organization. 
  • Discuss the role, expectations, and specific work standards or procedures. 
  • Confirm the duration of the internship, salary, attendance standards, etc.

Evaluate the Intern

Regular evaluation is important in the learning process. Providing the intern with feedback allows for adjustments in behaviors and work performance. It also provides an opportunity to assess how well the intern is meeting the objectives established at the beginning of the internship. The evaluation process can be formal or informal, depending on the culture of the organization. In addition to evaluating the intern, it can be useful to allow the intern to evaluate his or her own experience. This can help the supervisor evaluate and make any adjustments to the project and future internship assignments.