Offering short term work placements and opportunities for experience is a great way to support young people early on in their career. It gives them a chance to try out different roles in an industry, understand how a particular workplace runs and gain the valuable experience needed for applying to many competitive permanent positions.
However, all too often, students and graduates feel at a loose end during their work placement or feel like they are getting in the way. Any work experience, internship, or short-term role must be purposeful, relevant and challenging. This will ensure that the employee feels useful and learns something new. When you thoroughly plan and consider work placements, you offer people a valuable experience, whilst maximising the creativity and productivity of your business.
Here are some ways employers can ensure work experience, work placements and internships are meaningful for students and graduates.
1. Plan the placement.
Make the most of their time with you by planning what tasks and projects they can get involved with. It’s crucial to delegate activities at the right level, so they feel productive but aren’t asked to do anything which they are going feel stressed or anxious about.
Consider exactly when you intend to hire them. There is no point hiring interns for a quiet period where there will be nothing for them to do, or close to the deadline of a project when nobody will have time to support them.
2. Think about who will make the most of the experience.
Some placements will be more suited to students in school or college, as their first taster of the working world. Others will be more beneficial to graduates who already have a relevant degree. By considering the correct target group, you are ensuring that the people come in will be able to make the most of their time with you.
3. Use mentors and support staff.
It’s a good idea to ask younger members of staff or those who have something in common with the students and graduates, to act as a mentor through their placement. These staff members can act as an informal support system so that the placement employees know where to turn if they have any issues.
4. Write a policy.
Even for more casual placements and experience, it can be a good idea to write policy, so that students know what to expect before they begin. This can be just a short document which outlines what they will be doing and what you are hoping they will achieve.
5. Ask your current employees for help.
When considering what elements of the job will be most valuable for interns to learn about, ask your current employees. Employees can tell you what they found most challenging when they started, or what they think students and graduates will enjoy.
It’s important to ensure that your interns know exactly who they can talk to when necessary. Delegate certain staff to be available to help as and when and keep checking in with the interns, adapting anything that might not be working out.
7. Have a formal review and feedback session at the end of the placement.
One of the most essential parts of offering a short-term role is having a formal review and feedback session at the end. This is hugely beneficial for both your business and the intern as you can reflect on what went well and what required improvement, what they have learnt, and how you could adapt your placements and internships in the future.
To find out more about short-term work, visit our pages on internships, work placements and work experience. And have a look at the benefits of hiring students and graduates.