Inclusive Internship Programs: A How-to-Guide for Employers
The following is excerpted from a new guide from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy entitled ”Inclusive Internship Programs: A How-to-Guide for Employers.” Download the full guide here (PDF, 60 pages).
Well-structured internship programs benefit both interns and employers. By participating in these valuable on-the-job learning opportunities, interns augment their work experience, hone important work skills, develop their career goals, and establish connections that may prove useful throughout the span of their careers.
In turn, internships give employers access to a pool of motivated individuals who bring fresh thinking and innovation to their workplaces. Internships can also serve as a risk-free pipeline to meet the recruitment needs of the business, organization, or agency. Allowing employers to assess prospective candidates prior to making a permanent hiring decision improves the efficacy of the decision-making process and increases the likelihood of a successful match. Internships also provide leadership and management growth experience to the businesses’ existing staff members who oversee the internship program and its participants.
Building an inclusive workplace is a major facet of the modern workforce. Companies no longer view diversity and inclusion efforts as separate from their other business practices. They also recognize that a diverse workforce can differentiate them from their competitors and can help them capture new clients and increase market share.
As the topic of diversity appears throughout this guide (PDF, 60 pages), it signifies any number of experiences or characteristics that people bring to the workplace. Race, ethnicity, and sex are common factors in diversity initiatives, but it is also important to consider sexual orientation, gender identity, age, and disability when striving towards inclusion because they are often overlooked. As employers strive towards full inclusion in the workplace, they should incorporate a comprehensive definition of diversity that applies to all hiring practices, including internship programs.