The Heritage League of Pierce County would like to thank Allie Grill, Pacific Lutheran University’s Assistant Director of Internships, for bringing together her colleagues from other universities in the area to share insights on how heritage organizations can develop effective internship programs. The other presenters were Ann Adams from St. Martin’s University, Sue Dahlin from the University of Puget Sound, and Dawn Williams from the University of Washington-Tacoma. All presenters encouraged members of the Heritage League of Pierce County interested in hosting interns at their institutions to contact them directly – they are always looking for interesting internship opportunities for their students!
In the two-hour workshop, participants discovered:
- How to write internship descriptions that would attract the right students. If your project requires a student that can work quietly and independently, or if your job requires a lot of social interaction with the public, it is important that your job description conveys that. It won’t be fun for either the organization or the intern if the project doesn’t suit their personality.
- The one thing students need most of all from an internship is to learn what it means to work in the real world. More and more students are coming into college never having had a part-time job in highschool. So they need to know simple things like how to answer a phone and what a business letter looks like. And they also need to be given insights into how an organization works – how decisions are made and what procedures are followed. This kind of day-to-day knowledge is invaluable for young people about to head out into the world.
- Non-profits are not expected to pay their interns, unlike for profit companies that are ethically bound to do so. But it is always a good gesture to show student workers that their contribution to an organization is necessary and appreciated.
- Training is so important at the beginning of an internship, as well as giving interns an evaluation afterwards. If students are taking an internship for academic credit, the university will have forms to fill out at the beginning and end of the internship. But even if they are not taking an internship for academic credit, structuring the internship with formal training at the beginning and an evaluation at the end is extremely important.