OKC VeloCity | Internship programs offer benefits for companies, workforce

Internship programs offer benefits for companies, workforce

By Chamber Staff / Economy / March 1, 2015

The Oklahoma City region is home to more than 18 colleges and universities with students who are eager to start their professional careers. An ideal way to connect with this important segment of Oklahoma City’s workforce – and keep that workforce in Oklahoma City – is by developing an internship program at your company.

The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber offers its members resources on creating an internship program through its Greater Grads program, which was founded in 2006 as a part of the Forward Oklahoma City initiative. According to Elisa Milbourn, manager of education and outreach programs, internship programs are beneficial to both the interns and the employees.

“While internships are mostly known as an opportunity for college students to gain real-world, hands-on experience, companies of any size benefit greatly from employing students through an internship program,” Milbourn said. “Interns are a great source of manpower to work on special projects that lack attention from full-time employees, and they can also look at projects or challenges with a fresh set of eyes and a new perspective.”

Interns are also helpful in building a company’s workforce. Companies that decide to hire an intern for a full-time position will already be familiar with the intern’s work and performance. Interns who are hired by a company also require less initial training since they already know the policies, procedures and culture of the company.

Recent research indicates that internship programs help increase an entry-level employee’s likelihood of staying at their job for more than a year. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ 2014 Internship and Co-op Survey, employers retain around 75 percent of their new college hires who have internship experience.

Internship programs can be developed by companies of all sizes, and the Greater Grads program offers a handbook that can help businesses start that process. The handbook covers steps to developing an internship program, including assistance with identifying your business needs, developing an intern job description, recruiting and selecting interns, management tips and intern evaluations.

In addition to benefiting area businesses, internship programs also benefit Oklahoma City’s workforce as a whole by producing a career-ready workforce and retaining that workforce in Oklahoma City.

“College graduates are more likely to live and work in an environment in which they are already comfortable,” Milbourn said. “By introducing interns to community involvement opportunities, social aspects of being a young professional and workplace culture, they begin to establish themselves early on in their college career.”

The Chamber offers summer programming for interns that introduces them to the community and offers professional development information. Greater Grads also includes annual career fair and networking events to connect companies with potential employees. Visit GreaterGrads.com for more information, or view more resources for starting an internship program.

Read the original article in the March 2015 issue of The POINT! 

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