Over on my Posterous I put up a fun little graphic that captures my mouse movement while I was writing up an internship proposal. Knowing full well that many people would come to the post hoping to find an example of a internship proposal, I set up this blog post to show what an internship proposal can look like and what elements I include so others don’t have to start from scratch.
First off I’ll answer the question of “WHY?” Why I value internships and why you should too. Internships are great way to build your reputation and engage with schools and the community to get the best of the available talent pool. For some companies, internships are a way to leverage your reputation to get cheap/free labor. Forgive my obvious bias for a moment, I’ve had a few internship experiences and some were better than others. I worked as an intern for both a large media company (Fisher Compunctions) and a 10-person strong marketing agency (PBJS). During my internship experience, I learned a lot more, and received more professional benefits from the small company because I was a valuable member of the team, unlike the large company where I was cheap go-for. But I digress.
Internships can be hard to fill for many companies. Often time a internship proposal is like selling your company to prospective students. You want your company to stand out so that the best and the brightest students come to work at your company. Your reputation, client list and portfolio go a long way in this sales pitch.
When I first started writing up an internship program I was doing so with one simple goal: create an experience that was as good as or better than my own experience. That’s sounds a lot easier than it is for a few reasons. First of all, all school programs have different criteria for their students. It behooves you to do a little research through the internship coordinators and be sure to pinpoint those requirements so your interns can receive credit for their time as your intern. Some schools won’t even allow your internship in their program if you don’t. I’ll talk more about school requirements in a moment. Second, make sure you have enough time to have an intern. I know that sounds a little counter-intuitive but the reality is that interns (even the best ones) require your time and attention in some form. If you are a mentor, then that is your responsibility to engage with your intern. If you fill your 40 hours a week with work, your poor intern will end up being left to find things to keep themselves busy or end up getting bored and doing nothing their whole time. That doesn’t benefit either of you. Finally, make sure you have something for them to do. Not only do you have to manage your intern, but it’s your job to make sure they have work. Your management could be a simple as starting each day off telling your intern to, “walk around the office asking if people need help.” Be warned, this only works with he right type of intern. Realize that without a clear work plan, having an intern is likely going to end up costing you productivity.
What are the pieces of an Internship Proposal? Typically, you are writing an internship proposal for a particular school. Sometimes those schools will have a desired format for your internship proposal. Obviously you will need to include all requirements laid out by the school. However, if the school doesn’t have a required format or your reaching out for interns outside of academia below are some sections to get your proposal started.
A description of the internship and of the company - A brief paragraph that talks about your company, what it does and how the internship will support that process. This is where you want to sell the position to prospective students. Set your internship apart from the rest by highlighting big name clients and projects, workflows, or well known professionals within your company. If your office wears rock-band t-shirts or suit coats, this is a good place to call that out as well.
List of goals and measurements for all interns in the program – List all of the goals for your intern. This is where you call out the requirements from the school. Be sure to include any company policies around attendance, sick time, start and stop times, etc.
What your company will provide – Share what the intern will be able to use being part of your company. Talk about access to technology (computers, software), work flow process, mentoring, clients and compensation if applicable.
Requirements of the intern – List out the complete list of skills both required and desired for the position. Try to keep your required skills to a minimum after all your intern is there to learn, but they are interning for your company in your field so they should know something about what you do before coming in.
Schedule or time commitment for the position – If you need your intern there from 9-5 3 days a week, put it here. If the school requires a minimum of 30 hours per week and you don’t have a set timeline, put that here as well. Just make sure you have the cycles available to meet whatever requirements you set up in this section.
Measurements for success – This is the great place to highlight what you, as a company, value in the internship process and among your employees. Here is another place you can sell the position. If you value creativity and self-motivation, make those requirements in this section. Also be aware if your require any rights to the work done by an intern. You can call out those aspects in this section as well.
You can download my Internship Proposal Sample to help get you started
Once you have your proposal written up typically all you have to do is submit it to the internship coordinator at the school or post it on your local work bulletin board. I was surprised at first at how many people were applying for the internship I created. It was much less than I was anticipating, but after having 3 successful interns finish the program and go on to some great careers in the industry I’ve seen a steady increase in interest in the program.
Hopefully if you’re reading this you already see the benefits of creating an internship program at your company. I had an amazing internship experience that was so successful it inspired me to start my own. I hope that this information can help you learn more about what it takes to get your internship proposal written.