Employers, students, and education institutions all agree internships provide valuable work experience that allows students to apply what they are learning in school.

FCAN’s Kathy McDonald, Assistant Director for Network Partnerships, was recently joined by Michael Dalby, President and CEO of the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, and Lynn Chisholm, Director of Internships and Career Readiness at USF, for a lively discussion on how the business and education sectors can strengthen internship opportunities by understanding employer needs and using a common language.

The presentation explored some of the reasons internships are not more readily available:

  • Employer size
  • Terminology
  • Labor law considerations

Key Takeaways for How to Address These Concerns

According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, more than 89% of private employers in Florida had fewer than 20 employees in Q1 of 2017. Additionally, more than half of private employers had only 1-4 employees (65%). Many smaller employers may not have a human resources department that can help them plan an internship.

  • Consider nonprofits and local government as additional employer sources to create student internship opportunities.
  • Provide resources that help a smaller employer plan for an internship, such as sample job descriptions, weekly check-in templates, and an internship learning plan.
  • Leverage other forms of applied learning, such as intern-for-a-day (job shadowing) or mentoring to engage employers in working with students, even if they are not ready to offer an internship. Many times, these experiences can lead to internship opportunities down the line.

Education and employers don’t use the same terminology when thinking about applied learning opportunities. Education providers may think “internships” when “part-time, temporary employment” might be language an employer is more familiar with.

  • Use language employers understand, and translate the student learning need that can be part of a workplace experience.

Changes to labor laws occur periodically. Small employers without an HR department may not want to risk violating updates to labor laws by offering an internship when they have no experience with them.

  • Stress the benefits to the organization in offering internships that can lead to a positive return on investment, such as developing leadership abilities of existing staff, accessing projects or revenue by generating work with additional staff, and getting first dibs on new talent as the organization expands.

Mr. Dalby found that once an employer offers an internship, in the vast majority of cases the experience is so positive they are willing to do it again. They see the benefit to their business and the intern brings energy and fresh ideas that can reinvigorate the workplace.

Show Notes

Internship Toolkit (Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce)
“Why Interns?” Flyer (Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce)
Internships: General Information for Employers handout (USF)
Internship Learning Plan (USF)
Internship Components (FCAN)

Be sure to visit our Past Webinars page for access to recordings and downloadable material from FCAN’s previous presentations.

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