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Tue, Aug 31, 2010

Talent Strategies

Building A World-Class Internship Program

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Recently, I had the opportunity to lead a Monster Webinar entitled “How to Build a World-Class Internship Program: Advice from Companies That Are Getting it Right.”

What’s that, you say? You missed it?  Well, you’re in luck because the following covers a few highlights but, if that’s not enough, you can listen to the whole she-bang here (or check out the slide share below):

To begin, it’s no secret we live in a knowledge-based economy where businesses with the best talent win. For employers, this has created a supreme need to keep a pipeline of talent flowing and – over time – companies have wised up to the fact that internships are an excellent way to discover and audition entry-level hires.

That said, how do you actually run one?

4 Steps To A World-Class Internship Program

The first step is to know exactly what you want to get from the program. Since the costs involved in an internship program can be high when things like recruiting, salaries, and non-billable time are factored in, successful internships must produce a bottom-line return to their organization…. and you HAVE to know what that is.

Second, you want to be super-smart about recruiting. A layered approach will always outperform a single-shot effort, and recruiting is no exception. This means you have to locate candidates through multiple channels, e.g. Monster, campus visits, social media, etc.  Also, follow software giant Cisco’s lead and give your recruits job descriptions so they can make decisions based on work they would actually be doing.

Third, you must on board effectively. It’s not enough to give your interns (or any new hire for that matter) a cubical and expect them to train themselves. Take the time to strategically integrate newbies into your company and you’ll see the results in lower turnover and higher engagement. (Note: The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the average worker will have between 10-15 jobs in their lifetime now.) Want to keep your rock stars longer? Train them properly.  

Finally – to pay or not to pay? That is the question Hamlet didn’t get frequently, but I certainly do. The truth is, most companies pay. In fact, a recent study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reported that 98.6 percent of respondents’ interns are paid, with $17 as the average hourly wage for bachelor-degree level.

Who pays the most? According to Glassdoor.com, the following 10 companies have the highest-paid interns in the US.

Glassdoor.com: Highest Paying Internships by Company
(Min 20 Salary Reports*)
Company Intern Average Base Salary
Per Month
1. VMware $6,109
2. Google $5,953
3. Yahoo $5,911
4. Microsoft $5,784
5. Amazon.com $5,433
6. NVIDIA $5,319
7. Intel Corporation $4,937
8. Intuit $4,852
9. Deutsche Bank $4,851
10. Apple $4,751
* Based on reports as of 7/26/10

But regardless of whether your interns are paid or unpaid, remember that most are in it for the experience. So as you develop your own programs, consider this advice straight from the horse’s mouth. (An intern that is – not a horse.) “Only take on interns if you are fully willing to invest the amount of time it takes to welcome, train, assist, mentor, teach, and evaluate them to make the experience valuable, rewarding, and positive.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.


About the Author: Emily Bennington is coauthor of Effective Immediately: How to Fit In, Stand Out, and Move Up at Your First Real Job. She has been featured on CNN and ABC News, and she has been quoted in publications including the Wall Street Journal, New York Post, US News and World Report, and the Washington Post Express. She is a regular contributor to Monster.com as well as the college section of The Huffington Post.

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  • http://campustocareer.wordpress.com Kirk Baumann


    You summed it up perfectly! Once a company figures out why they want an internship and what it will look like, the hardest work is on the flip-side. Effective onboarding is paramount to retention. After all, the goal of internships is to create a pipeline to full-time employees, right? Onboarding is something that isn’t done incredibly well across the board, but is instrumental to the decision making process of the intern once they finish the program. Here’s a link to a recent post, 5 Effective Steps for Easy Onboarding: http://bit.ly/dmHXw0 (actually featured in Monster’s Weekly 5). I’d love to get your feedback on it!

    Keep rockin’ the blogosphere!

    Kirk Baumann

  • http://www.ProfessionalStudio365.com Emily Bennington

    Kirk – I really liked your article – sharing on Twitter now! Let’s keep talking about onboarding until *every* business has a formal program for assimilating new hires effectively, OK? This is truly one of the most important issues / opportunities we have in management today. Thanks for reading – keep in touch!

    Emily Bennington

  • http://campustocareer.wordpress.com Kirk Baumann

    Emily – it’s a deal. Keep spreading the word. :) Thanks for sharing my article!

  • http://www.pkjobs.pk/ Ayaz

    A nicely written piece of work regarding internship confusion grounds(to pay or not). Every market has its own aspects and facts, but its a fact that without a good sum of payment to internees, one should not expect quality results from internship program.

    Jobs in Pakistan