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Internships, apprenticeships, and work studies are all great ways to begin gaining hands-on experience in a field of study. As a business, it's important to establish possibilities for students' learning in order to provide future employees for yourself and to help your company flourish within the field. In addition, many key demographics are centered around this age group. The rise in social media means that unique sale ventures, new customers, and other positive changes can be assisted with younger potential hires. Due to this, it is easier for your business or company to "keep up with the Joneses" in terms of technology and social connections.

In this Instructable, we will help you create a college-friendly presentation, or "Immersion Experience," for your business. To do this, we will work with the help of a local business, North Carolina Orthotics and Prosthetics, Inc.

Step 1: Is Your Problem Really Valid?

Not every company and field of study is designed to sustain students, internships, or apprenticeships. In order to determine whether your business is, or isn't, you have to analyze the problem. First and foremost, ask the questions:

Can we benefit from student input?

Can students or apprentices help our business in some other way?

Will students benefit from working with us?

If the answers to these questions are yes, then it sounds like an apprenticeship or internship program will work for you. The next step is to determine how you will get these learners to your place of work. If you already have a small group of students/interns then try to expand on existing relationships, either with peers or professors/administrators, to help sustain or grow your entry level population. If you do not already have a current work-based learning program then you will need to find out why.

Students, as they enter the work force, naturally search local businesses to see if there are opportunities for work. If you haven't received inquiries recently, ask yourself the following questions:

Do students know about us?

If they do, are the opportunities available attainable or desirable by students?

If they don't know about you, or you aren't sure, why aren't they aware?

Are you working with any local schools? Are you reaching out to the community to provide awareness?

As you read through, you will most likely discover a certain area you are lacking. Meet with department heads and administrators in schools, alter job requirements or restrictions, provide compensation, and market to a younger audience in order to get noticed.

Once you are ready to find your interns, it is time to make the hunt easier.

Step 2: Create or Improve Your Program

There are two options for businesses with internship programs.

Either...

Students can choose which internship they desire.

or...

The business can choose the best applicants to fill their positions.

The first of these options is the most popular. However, the second option is much more desirable from a business standpoint. It allows companies to obtain the "cream of the crop" as future employees. This is done by establishing an impressive awareness program, and when creating this program there are a few important points to remember:

1) Students sit through lectures every week, they don't want another one.

2) Hands-on learning is a fantastic way to be remembered. For NCOPI, students will be making a mold of their finger using mold technology used by the company. Students taking a model of their own finger home with them should make the whole visit, and presentation, stick.

3) Everything the students see, even if it isn't part of your business, must be professionally completed. For example, NCOPI deals with orthotics and prosthetics, not movie software and client presentations. The experience to students, however, including pictures, movies, documents, and anything else, must be professionally done. A lack of quality in any facet will quickly demote your business from the top of their choices. A sample of a handout provided to students from NCOPI can be seen above.

Include coworkers, customers or patients if possible, and anyone else willing to help in this construction process.

Once you have completed an impressive experience or itinerary, it is time to move on to the next step.

Step 3: Gather Potential Interns and Trial Run Your Program

We have to measure how our creations or changes have affected the delivery to students. The only way is to have data to compare. In order to do this, we have created an entry and exit survey that will be given to students when they arrive, and then again before they are dismissed. There are important aspects of this survey that need to be addressed:

1) Be mindful of your audience. You are speaking to college students, there isn't severe need to stay very formal here. Conversational surveys have been shown to obtain more realistic results.

2) Make life easier on both you and the students. Prospective interns or apprentices won't want mandatory short answer or essay questions. Provide them with easy, yes or no answers, and allow them with the opportunity to ask more detailed questions in a "Notes" section.

3) Ensure you have given students the ability to complete the survey before they are present with any information that may skew the results.

For your convenience, we have provided a sample survey that we used for NCOPI.

In addition, it is suggested that you use topic specific questions provided in the surveys to answer during your trial run. Every group of potential interns will have different questions and different entry knowledge. Use the surveys to take advantage of knowing their wants and curiosities.

Step 4: Examine How Your Program Worked

After you have completed your trial run, it is time to revisit the process to see its strengths and weaknesses. Chances are, not every detail will run as smoothly as you had planned. Don't worry, as long as you didn't offend most students and create incentive for them to tell your new and old school connections all negative feedback, you will have more chances to improve the businesses' chances with interns.

The exit survey will help, if done correctly, with this process. Read the answers and modify your program to best suit incoming students.

What should you have touched on more in depth?

What were they confused about?

What did they enjoy? What did they dislike?

Once you have made the appropriate changes, repeat another trial run. Use the entry and exit survey with each new batch of potential labor. The data will help provide your business for useful feedback and ensure you stay at the top and forefront of students' wish list.

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