Participants discuss internship best practices at BRAC's InternBR Employer Workshop
Participants discuss internship best practices at BRAC's InternBR Employer Workshop

To support a workforce that satisfies employer demand and to position the Baton Rouge Area favorably for economic growth, BRAC executes a variety of initiatives to cultivate the region’s talent. The talent development program focuses on two aspects – recruitment and retention of talented professionals in the nine-parish region

InternBR, a BRAC Talent Development program, consists of services designed to better connect area employers with local millennial talent, and to retain millennial talent in the region. Intern programming includes an annual fellowship program focusing on communication and leadership skills. Employer programming includes resources and workshops designed to help area employers start or expand internship programs within their companies. 

BRAC recently hosted two employer workshops designed to help area businesses start or expand their internship program. Here are a few key takeaways to consider as the summer internship season begins. 

Let’s Start with a Definition

Let’s first define what an internship is and isn’t. It is a part-time or short-term job where the student gains purposeful experience related to their major and/or their intended career path. It is hard work by both the intern and the mentor with lots of guidance and feedback.  

Internships are not free or cheap labor. An intern is not someone to only run your errands or make coffee.  

Start with the End in Mind

Before you interview a candidate, it is best to begin the internship process by thinking of the end first and work your way backward. What kind of internship can you provide? What can the student learn? Who will provide feedback throughout the process? What kinds of work samples will they have for their portfolio at the end of the internship?  

By answering these questions first, you’ll have a better idea of who you’re looking for and what kind of internship you can provide. 

The Hunt for an Intern

Once you’ve determined the type of intern and what they’ll be doing during the internship process, it is time to hit the streets (or in this case, campus) in pursuit of great candidates. While you could advertise the position yourself or reach out to former professors who may or may not remember you, your best entry point is the campus career services department. Luckily for us in the Baton Rouge Area, we have multiple higher education schools with career services teams waiting to help you. Just give them a call and they can help connect you to the right departments, majors and students. 

  • Baton Rouge Community College – hibnerl@mybrcc.edu, 225.216.8244 
  • Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University – 225.490.1620 
  • Louisiana State University – career@lsu.edu, 225.578.2162 
  • River Parishes Community College – 225.743.8514 
  • Southern University – careerservices@subr.edu, 225.771.2200 

Feedback, Feedback and More Feedback

One of the most important features of an internship has to be the feedback students receive from employers and mentors. Feedback is the main way they will learn and grow, so feedback has to come early and often. Consider different types of feedback at different points during the internship:

  • text or email saying thanks  
  • recognition in a meeting, company email or social media  
  • timely visits during or shortly after a project 
  • weekly one-on-one meetings between intern and company mentor 
  • monthly progress checks against year-end goals 
  • assigned writing reflection pre- and post-internship 
  • reference letter or endorsement on LinkedIn 

To learn more about how to start or expand your internship program, contact our director of talent development.   

BRAC is an investor-driven organization leading economic development in the nine-parish Baton Rouge Area. One of BRAC’s strategic goals is to cultivate the region’s talent to meet workforce demands and each month we highlight one of our talent development initiatives. To learn more about our talent development strategies and resources, contact our director of talent development. 

Our People - Melissa Thompson - BRAC

Written by Melissa Thompson

Melissa leads all aspects of BRAC’s talent development program, including talent attraction and orientation. She works in partnership with employers to provide services that complement existing human resources recruitment practices.