It’s mid-May, and college students nationwide are on the hunt for summer internships. As students apply for roles, small businesses are prepping to ensure their internships provide students with valuable work experience. Internships give interns a glimpse a chance to get in some hands-on experience and a glimpse into the professional world they’ll be part of as post graduates.

The great news is that once the program has been established, a small business internship can help put students on the road to success. If you need help establishing a summer internship for your small business, focus on fulfilling these key areas.

Define, and outline, your internship program.

Why does your business need an intern? The answer should not be to exist as a personal assistant that goes on coffee runs for you. Successful internships are win-wins for both the business and the intern. The business benefits from the strengths that the intern brings to the table, and the intern is able to learn how to do new, useful things to add to their portfolio.

When creating an internship program, play close attention to defining the following areas.

  • Assigning meaningful work. The internship workload should be closely aligned with an intern’s skill sets and goals. Meaningful work gives the intern a chance to roll up their sleeves, get the hands-on experience they crave, and become a member of the team.
  • Establish goals. What are the goals for the internship? How do they align with the needs of your business? You may assign interns projects to work on, track their progress, and evaluate the assignment upon completion.
  • Determine how much you will be able to pay the intern and whether that pay will be on an hourly basis or consist of a stipend. Consult with the intern to see if they plan to use this particular internship for college credit purposes as well.
  • Intern(s). Do you plan to hire more than one intern each semester?
  • What is the official start date? How long should the internship last? How many hours a week can the intern work?

Assign an internship coordinator.

Small business owners must continue running their companies, so they should assign supervisors to work alongside interns.

An internship coordinator may set aside a few hours each week to introduce the intern to the company and show them the ropes. They will be able to meet with the intern one-on-one to check in on their progress, answer any questions, provide guidance and feedback during training periods, and explain more about the ins and outs of the business. By the end of the internship, it is entirely possible that the intern may have found a mentor in their internship coordinator.

Conduct an exit interview.

Once the internship is over, the internship coordinator and business owner may conduct an exit interview with the intern. They may do it on site or offsite at a coffee shop. This exit interview may be used to ask the intern questions about their experience.

Chances are, the intern will gladly speak up about what they learned and enjoyed about the program. They may also have suggestions about improvements for future internship programs — and these are more than welcomed with management. The more feedback they have, the better experiences they can create for future interns in semesters to come.