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The Busy Bees – Creating A Sustainable Internship Program For Small To Midsized Businesses

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jul 21, 2011 in Career Path

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So many flowers and so little time! Your small to midsized hive needs an extra set of honey bee hands for a couple of months and to cover for staff while they are out on summer vacations. There is a lot of honey needing to be made!

Students are a great resource for quick minds eager to learn. They are often up to date on the latest technology, are up and comers in the industry, and are a terrific way to screen potential employees once they are ready to start their careers.

Many colleges and universities require their students to graduate with at least one completed internship under their belts. This gives the students hands-on and practical work experience directly related to their career goals or field of interest. Employers who wish to take advantage of this pool of young talent should create a program which emphasizes professional development as well as provides constructive evaluation of the student’s performance including feedback on the program itself.

Internships are most often considered during the summer months when students will have more time to devote to their internship schedule, but internships can be offered throughout the year. School credit or pay can be offered at the company’s discretion. If the company wishes to offer school credit, they must meet the school’s requirements and submit an application to the school. This summer is a great time to think about starting a 4 to 8 week program for next summer depending on your business’ needs.

To create a sustainable internship program, you must first identify:
• Learning objectives.
• The tasks and responsibilities of the intern(s).
• Total compensation (paid, school credit, stipend, etc.).
• Supervisors/mentors who will guide the intern(s).
• People and concepts the intern(s) will encounter during their internship.
• Schedule of events not directly related to the tasks required of the intern(s) such as attending meetings, conferences, training, etc.
• Qualifications to perform certain tasks (must have(s)) which can be included in the job description
• Training and evaluation.
• Duration of internship (may be determined by whether it is paid or unpaid)
• How you will solicit interns (through the school website, various online internship databases, on the company website, word of mouth, etc.)

A successful internship program requires time and effort on the part of the supervisors. Drafting basic job descriptions as well as a tight, but flexible, schedule for the interns to follow is essential preparation as well as making sure that workspaces and necessary supplies have been arranged for.

5 steps to a successful program:
1. Prepare answers and materials for all of the above points so the internship period runs smoothly.
2. Orient and train the interns in your company’s business and include them in meetings with exposure to all levels of the company.
3. Utilize their skills by having them perform tasks that will challenge and educate with hands on experience.
4. Mentor– with opportunities for them to network and ask questions to benefit from others’ experience as well as shadow employees performing tasks that interns would not be permitted to complete. Research-based tasks are beneficial as well.
5. Evaluate their performance and success with required activities in the program and have them evaluate the program during and after with open communication. Follow up with the school if applicable.

Research your local colleges and universities and reach out to the deans about their internship requirements. No business is too small to have a formalized internship program. The University of Michigan’s Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute is an entrepreneurial studies program that could benefit from an internship at your startup company. Even if you are a small company you may find someone that ends up being a great long term hire. No company is too small!

Build it and they will come…and don’t forget to have fun! Interns can breathe new life into an organization with their enthusiasm. Go make some honey!

Special thanks to the recruiting department at Dixon Hughes Goodman for being a model program and the Michigan State University’s excellent website for tips on how to create a great internship program at your business. http://careernetwork.msu.edu/career-events-recruiting-schedule/hiring-interns.

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The Breeze – Cool Summer Job Tips For Students

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jun 22, 2010 in Career Path, Self Improvement

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No one wants their kids to grow up too quickly. We can never have time back from when we were younger, but let’s face it; our kids ARE growing up more quickly. They are more technologically savvy, they have larger vocabularies and many have traveled the world before they even leave high school breezing through a more connected world.

The generations that have wanted to make their kids lives easier have succeeded. But this is actually making job searches tougher for these young people as competition for entry level jobs has dramatically increased.

Consider these tips for high school and college students-

High school summer jobs introduce us to a hard day’s work. That’s how you make money- you go to work, do a good job, and they pay you. High school is a great time for fun summer jobs where extra help is needed like camp counselors, lifeguarding, babysitting, caddying, amusement park work, landscaping, pet sitting, waiting tables, or catering.

As the college students arrive home this summer, our inclination is to let them cool off and have a break from their studies and enjoy their “free” summers (before they have to work full time.) Unfortunately, they will be at a huge disadvantage if they haven’t had a college sponsored internship or some other position giving them the chance to try out professional work before they have to work full time.

It’s easy for college students to revisit their old high school summer jobs for some extra cash, but 3 or 4 summers later, those skills aren’t going to be the ones employers are seeking. Sure, they will have shown dependability by being on time and they’ll have learned to be individually accountable for their actions, but unless they have assumed responsibility for managing, scheduling, preparing correspondence for the company, and doing some basic bookkeeping or payroll using Microsoft office including word and excel, it’s possible the skills they’re building won’t be suitable for a professional entry level job after graduation. College students should have one or two internships under their belt or in the bag by their sophomore and junior years.

Many colleges have companies that solicit interns for formalized programs. Motorola, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Ebay, Microsoft and many other large corporations have formalized internship programs. If your student is interested in pursuing that type of work you can research the company websites and call human resources for information on the educational requirements for admission. These programs are very competitive but often yield job offers for participants.

Remember, over 80% of employers are small businesses. Ask the merchants you patronize as well as people you know personally if your student could interview for a 6 or 8 week assignment while they are home from college. Your local business journal or chamber of commerce are great resources to use when researching small businesses in your area.

Support your students by planning your summer vacations so they can work a meaningful 6 or 8 week program. Help them prepare their resume but show them how to research information to follow up on themselves and set up their own interviews. If they are juniors or seniors you could enlist a few sessions with an executive coach to help them hone their interview skills before sending them out to apply.

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The Desert – Winds Of Change

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jun 11, 2010 in Building Confidence, Job Search, Thinking Positive

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The Job Search Jungle is back in the desert!

Greetings from Las Vegas! The hot winds are high and bringing good news!

Its nearly 100 degrees outside today in the desert with high wind warnings but it’s even hotter and windier inside Fordyce Forum 2010 at the M Resort.

Hot topics presented here by leaders in the recruiting industry have an across the board consensus that hiring is continuing to grow across all segments. The winds of change signal that the candidate market is beginning to narrow again. Top candidates are getting multiple offers and employers are making counteroffers to key personnel upon resignation.

The forecast is good for job seekers and employers alike. Polish up your resume, enriching it with appropriate key words so employers will be able to find you as they add back jobs they eliminated last year and enhance their benefits to compete for the best talent.

Use the power of the winds and ride them to success as we kick off the summer of 2010!

Carolyn Thompson

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