Internship Programs: Building a Talent Pipeline

Why is it a good idea to have an internship program in place for your company? For starters, internships allow your business to build a talent pipeline while promoting your brand. Students gain experience in their chosen field of study and are excellent candidates to complete projects that may otherwise be left undone due to time constraints. Interns also bring fresh, new perspectives that can be impactful to your business, but an internship program takes time and attention to develop into a success.

At Society, we’re always on the lookout for fresh talent to bring aboard our expert team and take an active role in supporting aspiring insurance professionals. Along the way, we have learned some important lessons in developing an effective internship program for both the student and your business:

1. Create structure: While it may seem simple to implement an internship program, there are important considerations. The first step is to develop a plan that clearly defines the responsibilities and expectations for both the intern and their manager. A successful internship program is structured, but allows for flexibility when needed to meet shifting business demands. The value of an internship is largely dependent on the responsibilities and projects provided to the student.

2. Fun and learning: That’s right – they can go together! If you have multiple interns, bring them together so they can share their experiences with each other. This also provides them with an opportunity to learn more about your industry and business operations. And don’t forget to give them exposure to professional networking at fun events. Last year Society Insurance hosted a “Power Hour” where our interns were able to interact with each other and Society executives in a casual setting at a local restaurant.

3. Connect studies with career: An internship is a real-world experience to prepare students for their career after college. Create projects and tasks similar to the work performed in an entry-level position and keep in mind that they may need a fair amount of guidance. Establish your expectations after your intern has become more accustomed to company culture and progress in their work. Help them develop the necessary skills to be successful. This will give them a push to grow, along with real expectations for their first year on a job.

4. Open communication: Keep open communication between you and your intern and have occasional meetings to make sure everything is going well. Provide ongoing feedback and coaching to assist your intern’s development, and ask your intern what experiences they would like after they have an understanding of your operations.

5. Enterprise-wide perspective: At Society our interns listen to presentations from each department and complete job shadows of employees in various positions. They also complete an insurance course over a 10-week period which ends with an exam to test their comprehension of the material. They’re not done with books and tests just because they’re on summer break! We’re proponents of continued education here at Society so we engage interns in continued learning immediately.

Internships are continually evolving and we learn something new from each student who joins our team. If you choose to take on an internship program – make the decision and commit to it. Like building a product or delivering a service, it takes time to get it just right.

To find current career opportunities at Society Insurance, including internship positions, click here.

-Ryan Haase

Author

Ryan joined Society's HR department in 2005 and is responsible for recruitment, employee development programs and educational partnerships. He is actively engaged in Fond du Lac's Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Chapter through his service on the board of directors for three years, and will be the Chapter President in 2015. Ryan received his Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, majoring in Human Resources and he has also earned the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification.

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