Companies relying on student interns must adhere to eight core best practices, incentives and goals, said Eileen McGarry, the executive director of Career Services at the UA.
McGarry shared her insights during the STEM Internship Business Forum held on campus last week. As McGarry explained:
1. Company leaders must buy in to the internship program. Upper-level support is crucial to a program's success.
2. Supervisor-level personnel must be engaged in the internship program.
3. Assignments to interns must be authentic. Interns must work on projects in which they are able to help solve real-world problems.
4. Interns must receive regular feedback to ensure that they are learning and growing.
5. Companies should adopt a cohort model where possible. It is important that a culture of teamwork is emphasized and that interns feel part of a "culture of inclusion."
6. Interns should be paid for their work and be tasked with working on projects with real-world applications.
7. Accountability must be expected and emphasized.
8. Interns should be trained toward transferring their skills into full-time work in the field.
During the forum, UA President Ann Weaver Hart and Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, along with representatives from the UA STEM Learning Center announced a new process that will make it easier for businesses to connect with STEM interns. With life scientists, engineers, social science technicians and mathematical scientists being among the STEM positions expected to have the highest demand in southern Arizona through 2020, as reported by UA STEM Learning Center researchers, the UA is increasing support for the STEM fields.
"At Career Services, we are at the front door for talent positions," said McGarry, who urged area businesses to connect with the UA and its partners to identify interns. "There is a whole lot going on on our campus. We will help you get started on this process."
Learn more about UA's STEM initiative by reading "With Seed Planted, STEM Internships Can Grow."