Engaging UMW Students as Interns

UMW students possess many natural and learned skillsets that can be great assets to small, growing, and large companies. As ‘digital natives’, they have an intuitive understanding of different information management systems, online design and experience best practices, social media platforms and other online marketing activities. UMW has strong Economics, Business, Computer Science and Communications programs that teach UMW students to think critically and complete independent projects. While our students are well-schooled in their various academic fields and possess great knowledge, there is no substitute for real-world professional experience.  

Internships that are organized and well thoughtout provide a great opportunity for both the employer and the intern. UMW uses an online platform called Handshake to connect employers to students. Handshake is a powerful tool that helps employers target students based on the students’ majors, degree types, interests, and more. To sign up, simply create a free account online using your email and basic contact information. Select the option to “keep me logged in” so you don’t have to worry about the webpage timing out. You will enter basic company information: name, industry, website, location, description and size. There’s also an option to upload your logo.  

When you finish setting up your account, click “Save”. UMW will review your account before it goes live. This process takes approximately one business day. At this point, you can create a new internship position. UMW students will reach out to you through Handshake, and you can share contact information for follow-ups/interviews.  

To ensure the best possible experience for students and your company, be sure to plan ahead. Here are some tips to follow when developing an internship program: 

  1. Have a goal for the overall internship program. Make a list of desired outcomes. For example, you may want an intern to increase your company’s social media presence, help refresh your branding, or conduct market research. 
  2. Goals should include learning outcomes for the student.  What new skills can the intern expect to acquire? 
  3. Determine the qualifications required to accomplish your goal. What skills should an intern have before starting the internship? 
  4. Plan the internship program. Create a timeline and outline projects/tasks. 
  5. Avoid assigning too many tasks; understand that college students are busy with schoolwork and looking for learning opportunities to enhance their development without being overloaded and stressed. 
  6. Plan an evaluation method. How will you evaluate their work performance and productivity? What strategies can you implement to teach them new skills or to help them develop as professionals? 
  7. Set up the interview and training process. Will you have an orientation? How will you train your interns to ensure this is a valuable learning experience for them?  
  8. Provide meaningful feedback.  Internships are an excellent opportunity for learning.  You can enhance this learning by providing meaningful insights that will prepare them for a career. 

Employers have great freedom to determine the scope of work and all other internship details, such as pay, hours, schedule, length of internship, and mentorship. These items should be listed upfront in the internship position description. The UMW SBDC is happy to assist you in the process of finding UMW student interns.  We have sample job descriptions which we can provide to our clients; simply request one from your consultant.  If you are not a UMW SBDC client, you may request consulting with our office.