Run an Intern Program

Staff Structure: Identify Employees Key to Intern Programs

What Are the Key Roles Involved in Running an Internship?

There are traditionally two roles involved in running an internship program from the employer/host organization perspective. And while they may have slightly different titles from company to company, these positions most often correspond to the following descriptions:

  1. Internship coordinator—this person generally works in the host organization's HR department and can be seen as the overall director of the internship program.

    The internship coordinator is usually responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of an internship program, overseeing and coordinating the program once it's up and running, assigning interns to various departments, and managing site supervisors. This individual also acts as the liaison between the company and the educational institution (the student's faculty sponsor, the school's career center director, and/or career counselors).

  2. Site supervisor—this person directly supervises and interacts with the intern; therefore, if an organization hosts multiple interns, there are likely multiple site supervisors, especially if interns are placed in different departments. (However a single supervisor can certainly manage more than one intern.)

    Site supervisors report to the internship coordinator and are responsible for assigning and managing the day-to-day activities of interns, evaluating intern performance, and (typically) providing progress reports to the internship coordinator.

So does this mean that all employers must have separate staff members to fill these two functions?

Not at all. The structure above is important for larger businesses, because there are often numerous interns working in different departments and simultaneously coming and going. Therefore, someone needs to organize and integrate the various parts of the program.

However, in small businesses, it's completely possible that the internship coordinator and site supervisor are the same person.

Essentially, when your company has enough interns or supervisors that you need someone to coordinate the program on a big-picture level, it's time to assign an internship coordinator.

But if you're a small business just starting with one or two interns—and you don't even have a human resources department—a site supervisor should suffice.

Want to learn more? Read the following article(s) for additional information: