If you’re looking into starting your own internship program for your small business, you may have some questions about what an internship program is and what distinguishes it from other forms of employment. Internships are similar to apprenticeships in that the intern works in a temporary position with an emphasis on on-the-job training. Your typical intern is usually a college or university student, but they can also be high school students or post graduate adults seeking skills for a new career. Some of the benefits of an internship program are that they provide students with opportunities to gain experience in their field, determine if they have an interest in a particular career, create a network of contacts, or gain school credit. From a small business owner’s standpoint, internships provide the businesses with cheap or free labor for typically low level tasks. As an added bonus, many employers decide to hire back their interns after they graduate because they require little or no training.

Internships may be paid, unpaid, or partially paid. A partially paid internship could include a stipend, bonuses, or benefits. Typically, internships in the medical, architecture, engineering, law, business, technology, and advertising fields will be paid positions. This is because these students are in high demand and can demand competitive rates. Internships in non-profit organizations such as charities and think tanks are often unpaid, volunteer positions. For many schools, the act of job shadowing may also constitute as interning because the student is receiving professional experience.

Internships can be either part time or full time positions. Students will typically take part time internships during the school year so they can balance their work and academic lives. However, during the summer, most students search for full time internships. The length of an internship also varies depending on the school and time of the year. During the school year, an internship will normally last about 1 semester or trimester and over the summer and internship could last anywhere between 6-12 weeks.

An intern is generally your typical student, 18-22 years old, single, with no children. However, nontraditional students also desire internships and the diversity of backgrounds they bring is a definite plus for your small business. In a nutshell, an internship program formally integrates a student’s academic studies with relevant work experience.