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Setting Up a Successful Internship Program Through Goal-Setting

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Internships can be a great way for young adults to gain relevant experience that can help them launch a successful career. However, many companies often fail to plan for a successful internship program. This is especially true in small businesses where only one or two people handle all of HR operations. An internship program should be designed to help interns learn new skills, grow as professionals, and take on meaningful work experience that enables them to make an informed decision about their career path. 

It’s important for interns to see the big-picture outcome of their contributions to a company, while also having a clear understanding of their expected responsibilities. Consider setting goals at the beginning of the internship that encompass both company-specific objectives and professional/ personal growth. 

A great way to frame goals is milestone vs lifestyle goals. 

A milestone goal achieves a specific outcome. These types of goals are usually completed before the end of the internship. Examples include:

  • Grow the company’s Instagram following by 30%
  • Learn Java and deploy a new mobile app feature

Lifestyle goals are more likely to be ongoing. These types of goals could persist even after the end of the internship. Examples include: 

  • Build your professional network
  • Build your personal brand

After setting goals, it’s important to break them down into actionable steps. The main reason many of us do not follow through on goals is because we’re overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude itl or don’t know where to start.. Consider breaking up internship goals into tasks (activities done once) or routines (activities done on a repetitive basis). Let’s look at some examples with the goals mentioned above. 

  1. Grow instagram following by 30%

Social media marketing is a common goal for interns to take on. An initial task might be to research and set up a content calendar. A routine that an intern might set up to make progress towards this goal is posting on the company’s instagram page ten times a week. Another series of tasks might be to brainstorm ideas for posts according to different themes for each week of the internship. 

  1. Learn Java and deploy one new mobile app feature

In a software development role, an intern might start out expanding their skillset by creating routines to learn their desired programming language and devote a few days each week to applying what they learn. Once an initial prototype has been created, they could set up a task to share with several internal stakeholders for initial feedback. It’s important to collect input from users regularly as they continue to iterate on the product, so the intern might set up another routine to talk to potential customers each week. They might also set up routines for grooming the product backlog and conducting a retrospective. 

  1. Build your professional network

This is a common career goal that is important for interns as they’re getting started in their careers. Since this is an ongoing activity, it might make sense for interns to set up routines that encourage them to build consistency with networking. They might commit to attending one company social or industry event every week or adding 5 people to their LinkedIn network each week. To build more depth in their interactions, we encourage them to schedule informational interviews with employees at the company each week to learn more about their roles and career journeys.

  1. Build your personal brand

Building a personal brand is a lifelong pursuit that enables someone to establish their reputation, build trust, and communicate the unique attributes that they bring to the table. In the early days of their career, an intern may start out assessing their strengths, values, and interests to gain more clarity around their differentiation. They might also set up a routine to create content related to their interests and post it on their personal and professional social media accounts. They could also devote some time each week to following other accounts and influencers they admire to gather inspiration. 

Keeping track of goals and ensuring consistent progress towards them can be difficult. The best way is to break them down into smaller steps, revisit them regularly, and take action. Help support your interns in their professional development and personal growth by creating time and space to review goals regularly, celebrate successes, and discuss areas of improvement. At the end of the internship, help your intern look back on their achievements and guide them towards crafting a narrative or updating their resume to reflect the progress they made. They’ll appreciate you for supporting them through their career development and perhaps come back to work for you again! 

About the Author

Goalden Hour provides a platform for interns to create goals, break them down into tasks or routines, and share those goals with their managers for accountability. To learn more, check out https://goaldenhour.com/ or email team@goaldenhour.com if you’re interested in using Goalden Hour for your team. 

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