Implementing an internship program into your agribusiness can be quite a bit of work but is well worth adding to your business strategy. Not only are you helping to build the future talent in agriculture, but internships are a great way for you to identify potential talent to add to your team. Internships can vary by length, amount of responsibility, and pay, so you can customize your agriculture internship program to your organization. Just like managing your current team, you need to effectively manage your interns. The following tips can help you ensure a successful experience for you and them.
Benefits of Having an Internship Program
- Fresh perspective – Interns come in with fresh eyes. They will look at your company differently than you and your employees. Allow them to offer new, efficient ways to complete tasks.
- Grow Talent – While there may not be a need for a position when you hire an intern, after working with them you may find they fill in the gaps and get tasks done that usually fall through the cracks.
- Reduce Overall Workload – Hire interns to support your team during a busy season. Once they are trained, this will allow employees to lessen their overall workload.
- Improve Employee Leadership Skills – Allowing your employees to manage an intern on a smaller scale can provide them with the opportunity to grow their leadership skills. Advise the intern supervisor throughout the internship program to ensure it’s a success.
- Build Relationships with Colleges and Universities – Providing internship opportunities that grow talent in the industry, will build your relationship with the colleges and universities near you. If they hear good feedback from students, they are likely to share your internship or job opportunities with future students that could then improve your business.
- Giving Back to the Industry – These students will be looking for an ag career soon after they graduate. Even if they don’t fit with your company, the experience you provided them could help them succeed in the industry.
1. Lay the Foundation for a Successful Agriculture Internship
Set expectations and define clear outcomes for the agriculture internship. What do you hope to accomplish before the intern leaves your agribusiness? Be sure to consider the time frame when setting these goals. How will you and the intern communicate throughout the entirety of the program? Determine the communication style that will work best for you and your interns. Deciding on these items will allow you to have clear expectations and instructions for your intern once he or she arrives.
2. Prepare supporting docs
Think about various jobs your intern will do. What do they need to efficiently complete these jobs? Simple items you can have on hand for your intern are contact lists, a job description, passwords, links, how-to instructions for repeated tasks, etc. Having these supporting documents will allow your intern to feel more confident and move through tasks efficiently without the need to constantly stop and ask questions.
3. Ask for Help
Reach out to coworkers to have them look over all your materials and the overall foundation of the internship. Especially if this is your first-time managing interns, ask them for advice or opportunities for the interns to job shadow. Some days may be lighter than others and job shadowing a variety of tasks will allow your intern to further explore your agribusiness. In addition, advise the entire company on when the interns will be arriving and leaving. Clear communication with your team provides a better opportunity for them to provide help if they know all the details.
Give your interns a couple of days to settle in by having an orientation. Introduce them to employees, take time to give them the equipment they’ll need, give them promotional items, etc. While you may be ready for them to jump right into tasks, take time to teach them about your company. What are your company goals? What are the company’s core values and how does it fit into your company culture, vision, and mission statement? How does your team define your agribusiness?
Once you give them the foundation of your business, take the rest of the orientation to get into the details of how they will spend their time and begin training. Be sure to take the time to ask or observe their learning style. Knowing this will help you better understand how to manage them.
5. Provide Daily Tasks
Communicate proactively by providing written tasks so they are not left wondering what they should be doing. Be sure to give them a variety of tasks that range from simple to challenging. If you connect these tasks with results, your intern will focus on the long-term goal rather than the task at hand. Overall, make them feel welcome and remember they are part of your agribusiness team. Invite them to meetings, have them work on projects, and delegate your tasks. Internships are an opportunity for agriculture students to explore the industry and to help them explore different ag careers to better guide their career path.
6. Coach Your Intern
They are looking for you to be an example. Coach them on everything from how your agribusiness runs to how your team communicates and works collaboratively. Be accessible and conduct check-ins. Giving them deadlines will ensure everyone is on the same page. As your interns finish different tasks, provide them with quality feedback. You know when the project needs to be done, so provide them with deadlines that give you time to go over their work with them and give feedback.
7. Conduct Exit Interviews and Make Improvements
Before your intern leaves, be sure to ask them, in person or online, about their experience. They experienced the internship firsthand and would have great input on what was great and what could be improved. Take the input and continue to implement what went well and change what didn’t work.
Remember, your intern is here to learn and you’re preparing them for the next step in their agriculture career. The industry is constantly changing and those in the industry need to be flexible. If your intern learns how to adapt and roll with the punches, they will be more successful in an ag job and help drive the industry as a future ag leader.
If you’re looking for the next generation of ag talent, AgHires can help. We are dedicated to promoting our ag industry to young adults and showcasing what we have to offer. Learn how to post your Internship for free at AgHires.com.