Will Work for College Credit: Creating an Internship Program

With the fall semester right around the corner, students are actively seeking internships. Reap some knowledge from a bright, young mind and train the next generation of talent…

Hiring the next generation of workers is often recommended as a competitive edge, especially to companies who market or sell to the youth demographic. However, you may still hesitate to take on unproven talent or fresh college graduates. A 2010 survey by the Association of American Colleges and Universities shows your concerns are shared as 73% of employers felt that more emphasis should be placed on students’ “ability to apply knowledge and skills to real-world settings through internships and other hands-on experiences”. Creating your own internship program is a great way to be a part of the solution, but to generate real value for your organization and the student you must go beyond posting an entry-level position as an unpaid internship.

So how do you create a mutually beneficial internship program? First, it’s important to know that the Fair Labor Standards Act defines criteria for internship positions and states that in addition to giving the student an opportunity to work in their field, you must provide instruction that is “similar to training which could be given in an educational environment”. So, you should choose departments and positions that support the dual goal of teaching a student new skills and benefiting from their existing knowledge and new point of view.

Second, you have to carefully consider compensation guidelines. While unpaid internships are legal so long as you adhere to the FLSA standards, some compensation in addition to college credit may help you recruit more of a rising star than a dimming bulb. If you can’t provide an hourly wage, be sure you can provide even more praise, feedback, and the occasional bookstore gift card to keep your student motivated.

Now you need to find a source of interns. Start by contacting local colleges who offer programs pursuant to your business. The academic counselors of relevant departments can help you post a position or find an intern that matches your criteria. Internships are typically required of students in human resources, business administration, journalism and public relations. You might even go out to a job fair or two which doubles as an opportunity to market your business.

Once your intern is in place be sure you are closely monitoring their progress and also upholding your end of the bargain. Who knows, your next CEO may start out in the accounting file room!

Are Workplace Complaints Driving You Crazy?

Do you feel like your workforce is spending too much time whining? Consider this quote from Colin Powell:

“The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.”

Certainly, there are some employees that spend too much time focusing on the negative.  And, chances are if you have some of those constant complainers in your organization, they might be driving you crazy. But, think about this; if you’re not hearing complaints, you are not in the loop. So we suggest taking a strategic approach.

You are in a management role because you know how to get things done. So when an employee brings a problem to you, your first inclination may be to solve it. But, hold on… when you solve the problem, it isn’t doing you or the employee any good. Your first response should be along the lines of “how do you think we can solve this problem?”  By asking this question you are setting the stage for an exchange of ideas that will help you, the employee, and your organization. You don’t need to take their advice, but once the whiners know that you are going to ask for a solution they may consider their complaints in a different light. Plus, you might be presented with a solution you wouldn’t have thought of.

We’re Not Your Traditional Consulting Company

The other day I met the most amazing man. He is a doctor by training, but an outstanding business man by talent. He has built himself a multi-million dollar organization from the ground up. Always fascinated by self-starters and ingenuity I asked him how he did it. He said he had a vision in the 70’s of what he wanted to accomplish. He was told several times that it was impossible to realize his dream, because no one was doing it, and quite frankly, it couldn’t be done. Today he is a millionaire many times over, and he encourages others to believe in their dreams.

As a Senior Partner at inFUSION Group, I was curious what he thought about consultants. He sighed and said he has little faith in consultants, because they based their advice on what they read in books. Most consultants do not have the lifelong experience of accomplishing their dreams, making mistakes and achieving success on their own.

inFUSION Group was built on that very premise. All Senior Partners are very accomplished executives in their own fields. CEOs and Senior Vice-Presidents of major industries, we work like a “think tank” to assist companies in achieving their vision. We use our years of collective on the job training to cut through the bureaucracy, improve customer service and most of all improve the bottom line.

With our experience in Sales, Talent Management, Focused Marketing, Team Building and Strategic Planning, we use our expertise along with our clients’, to accomplish your dreams.

Written By: Catherine A. Roberts
Senior Partner