Internship Kick-Start, Part One: Why You Should Consider an Internship Program

Internship programs are essential to building a stronger talent pipeline for your industry. Plus, you can learn from interns as they learn from you.

This is day one of our internship series. Check out day two, on what internship programs need to succeed, day three, on managing interns effectively, and day four, on managing interns remotely.

The evolution of a person from student or enthusiast to professional requires a few steps along the way to best position them for the career they want—or may not even know they want yet.

Enter the internship program, a great way to introduce interested students to a new field. But internships aren’t just there for those who are learning: These programs can create a lot of value for your industry—and for the associations that host them.

With that in mind, we’ll be taking a weeklong dive into kick-starting an internship program. Today’s entry: Why you should start an internship program.

The Case for Building an Internship Program

One of the biggest issues many associations face is attracting younger members, something that 24 percent of organizations report as a challenge, according to the latest edition of Marketing General’s Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report [registration required].

And with younger generations of workers looking for a foot in the door, beyond offering fresh experience to people who are new to a given industry, an internship program can be an effective way to reach new types of members.

Sarah Sladek, the founder and CEO of XYZ University and an expert on generational issues, explained that internship programs can actually teach the association how to function more effectively for the future.

“If associations want to stay relevant, they should be having think tanks of young individuals, but yes, also interns coming in, learning about associations,” Sladek said. “But it should be a learning and teaching moment so that associations can learn and observe this next generation and be able to begin to prepare for this next generation of members as well as workers.”

Sending a Broader Signal

Another point Sladek makes is that associations are well-positioned to help promote the benefits of internship programs to their own members, as they can highlight the value younger employees bring to the workforce.

“Especially right now, in this time of transition, more and more members and industry leaders are looking to associations for solutions and to carve the path,” Sladek said, citing the concerns around the Great Resignation. “So this is a great way to show that commitment to the talent pipeline and that commitment to onboarding young people right away.”

(Associations Now Photo Illustration; Creative Credit/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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