Q Our relatively small (70 employees) private asset management firm serves the investment and financial needs of very-high-net-worth families. We are looking to start an internship program. How do we best integrate the individual into the flow of our business without overwhelming his/her capacity or our resources?
A An internship program is a boon to both parties: It gives your intern valuable experience in the business world and provides company executives with a fresh view of their organization that may reveal some interesting perspectives.
To integrate an intern into your business, first develop a way for him or her to learn about the different components of your business quickly and efficiently. Schedule informational interviews with the department heads, explaining to the intern that, once these interviews are completed, he or she will sit down with the top executive or second-in-command to answer any final questions about the company's operations. This can be a learning process for both sides.
Second, request that one or two employees serve as mentors to the intern. Mentoring works best as a volunteer project and is most effective when mentor and intern have an affinity for each other. Ask for volunteers.
Finally, identify two or three possible projects for the intern. After the initial ramp-up process, work with him or her on deciding where to begin. Have a feedback session at the end of each project, then let the intern move on to a new one. This way, both your company and the intern are getting periodic opportunities to formally adjust the process as it unfolds.
PROFESSOR OF MANAGEMENT
UNIVERSITY OF ST. THOMAS
OPUS COLLEGE OF BUSINESS