Making Internships Better Makes Sense

Words by Glenn Vaughan, CEO, British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium

While we’ve grown and developed our professional team we’re always trying to deliver even more for members. So getting the best out of our team – including interns – is essential.

That’s why today, I’m committing the chamber to a brand new standard for quality internships with InternsGoPro. We, along with our good friends at the European Youth Forum and chamber patron member EUK Consulting (www.eukconsulting.com) are part of the first group of organisations to adopt this new standard. It’s part of our commitment to be a great employer, because it makes good business sense.

Our commitment doesn’t end there though. We also want to help our members deliver the best they can. That’s why we’re hosting the launch of the ‘Employers Guide for Quality Internships on the 12 March. If you want to learn more or get involved, come along.

It’s also part of our wider commitment to promote youth employment – especially through the Ambassadors’ Gala in October this year.

Committing to the InternsGoPro standard doesn’t mean we’ve got everything perfect. But we are intent on improving – and quickly. Here are the four top things I’ve learned so far.

A Clear Agreement
Make sure you have a clear agreement at the beginning – a job description and a contract. Here in Belgium, you can use the standard trainee contract. A proper contract and proper pay sets the best framework for a successful internship. If you want to compare – we’re happy to share. So drop me a line.

Learning
The difference between a job and an internship is that interns are primarily there to learn while doing. So an explanation of the skills you expect the intern to acquire is a good starting point. Then you need a clear view of the on-the-job or formal training they’ll need to really do the job well. And if you want them to learn, they’ll need challenging tasks and real responsibility as part of their role.

Supervision
From good induction to regular review sessions, making sure they are making the right progress and learning quickly is the role of a supervisor with the time and skills to do the job properly. Ensure they understand how the company works (not just where the kitchen is) and where their contribution makes a difference. Making sure they have clear objectives and deadlines that are regularly reviewed means you have the best chance of delivering the goods.

Value and Acknowledge
Recognition is essential to motivation for all of us. Make sure your interns are part of the team, taking part in team building activities and actively participating in meetings with clients and partners as well as networking events. It makes a difference when you ensure that their contribution is recognised by others. And even when you can’t offer them a job yourself, what they do next reflects on you. So use your own network to help, and provide a clear and comprehensive reference.

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