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Develop an Internship Program

Optimize your future talent pipeline by investing early in emerging talent.

Internships (including co-op placements) are on the rise. Companies that face a shortage of skilled labor with key competencies use internships to build their employer brand and strengthen talent pipelines to high-value candidates. Meanwhile, prospective employees facing a difficult labor market covet internships as the means to gain work experience in a new field or industry.

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  • Get on-demand project support
  • Get advice, coaching, and insight at key project milestones
  • Go through a Guided Implementation to help you get through your project

Our Advice

Critical Insight

A well-thought-through, structured internship program expands the talent pipeline and supports organizational goals through meaningful work that benefits both interns (and co-ops) and the organization.

Impact and Result

  • Get the project done quickly and carefully by focusing on goals and outcomes. Internship programs fail when organizations are not clear about the goals of the program or its learning outcomes and when they fail to mentor and supervise interns effectively.
  • A successful program does not need to be time-consuming so long as key elements are in place. Internships that work have a clearly defined work plan, a diligent recruiting process, and an effective framework for intern supervision and mentoring.

Develop an Internship Program Research & Tools

2. Plan for internship recruitment

Build an internship work plan that identifies projects and responsibilities, learning outcomes, and work-relevant candidate skills.

3. Design approach for intern integration

Recruit and onboard interns that work for your organization.

4. Prepare to implement the program

Put in place an effective management process.

Workshop: Develop an Internship Program

Workshops offer an easy way to accelerate your project. If you are unable to do the project yourself, and a Guided Implementation isn't enough, we offer low-cost delivery of our project workshops. We take you through every phase of your project and ensure that you have a roadmap in place to complete your project successfully.

Module 1: Draft Program Structure

The Purpose

  • The success of your internship program hinges on the shared value it creates for the business, the interns, and the community.
  • Standardize and document Service Desk Supported Systems to better maintain the organization.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Go/no go decision.
  • Business goals for the internship program.
  • A clear and concise case for the program.
  • Reduction of response and resolution times for recurring service requests.
  • Creation of service request workflows.




Review need for the program and define program goals and metrics.

  • Internship program goals and metrics

Outline program structure (i.e. level of centralization, program format).

  • Outlined program structure

Assign stakeholder accountabilities.

  • Stakeholder accountabilities assigned

Module 2: Define Roles and Target Audience

The Purpose

  • A good internship program will ensure the assignment of a wide variety of challenging programs and tasks.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • An internship work-plan.
  • Relevant skills for recruiting internship candidates.
  • An analysis of compensation options.




Review and prioritize intern requests.

  • Prioritized list of intern requests.

Draft initial intern job descriptions (1-2).

  • Initial intern job descriptions written (1-2).

Create intern audience profiles.

  • Intern audience profiles drafted.

Module 3: Prepare for Intern Recruitment

The Purpose

  • Recruit interns in broadly the same way as regular employees to ensure the business value from the program.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Recruitment process and job description.
  • Interview plan.
  • Onboarding plan and survey.




Draft selection criteria for external partners.

  • External partner selection criteria drafted.

Identify potential sourcing methods for intern recruitment.

  • Intern recruitment sourcing methods selected.

Determine which HR policies required updating.

  • Identified list of HR policies that require updating.

Module 4: Plan for Intern Integration

The Purpose

  • Effective supervision and mentorship are the cornerstone of your internship program.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • An intern management plan.




Identify key onboarding requirements for interns.

  • Intern onboarding defined.

Identify potential socialization and professional development opportunities.

  • Socialization and professional development opportunities selected.

Outline intern performance evaluation process.

  • Performance evaluation process outlined.

Module 5: Develop Approach for Program Implementation

The Purpose

  • Effective off-boarding begins with effective supervision during the second half of the internship.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • An intern exit survey.




Develop high-level action and communication plan.

  • Communication and action plan outlined.

Identify training requirements/needs.

  • Required training for relevant stakeholders determined.

Establish an annual program evaluation and planning process.

  • Program evaluation process outlined.
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About McLean & Company

McLean & Company is an HR research and advisory firm providing practical solutions to human resources challenges via executable research, tools, diagnostics, and advisory services that have a clear and measurable impact on your business.

What Is a Blueprint?

A blueprint is designed to be a roadmap, containing a methodology and the tools and templates you need to solve your HR problems.

Each blueprint can be accompanied by a Guided Implementation that provides you access to our world-class analysts to help you get through the project.

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Get the help you need in this 4-phase advisory process. You'll receive 8 touchpoints with our researchers, all included in your membership.

Guided Implementation 1: Define the internship program structure.
  • Call 1: Review organizational information and talent needs and determine the most appropriate internship program format.

    Identify potential projects, intern responsibilities, and learning experiences. Outline the learning outcomes that you expect the internship program to create, and identify relevant skills that internship candidates should exhibit.

  • Call 2: Outline program goals and metrics.
  • Call 3: Solidify degree of centralization and accountabilities of stakeholders.

Guided Implementation 2: Plan for internship recruitment.
  • Call 1: Review criteria for selecting intern managers.
  • Call 2: Identify internship recruitment plans.

Guided Implementation 3: Design approach for intern integration.
  • Call 1: Plan internship socialization and development opportunities.
  • Call 2: Identify performance evaluation process for interns.

Guided Implementation 4: Prepare to implement the program.
  • Call 1: Outline an action and communication plan.


  • Megan Adams, Program Associate, DreamWakers
  • Randy Breitling, VP Human Resources, Capital Farm Credit
  • Kimberly Chomut, Human Resources Director, TAXI
  • Jenny Crawford, Director, Talent Acquisition, Oshkosh Corporation
  • Danielle DeVries, Associate Director, Corporate Recruiting, Ivey Business School at Western University
  • Meagan Graham, Commercial Director, McLean & Company
  • Jeffrey Moss, Founder and CEO, Parker Dewey
  • Emily Ronning, National Design Director, The BrandLab
  • Stephanie Scott, Campus Recruiting Lead, West Monroe
  • Keirsten Sires, Founder and CEO, LRT Sports
  • Stephanie Small, Creative Operations Manager & Executive Assistant, TAXI
  • Breanne Stoudt, Campus Program Advisor, BCI
  • Michael True, President,
  • Echo (Hanrui) Xiao, Coordinator, Early Talent Acquisition (Capital Markets), RBC