9 Tips to Help You Build a Best-in-Class Internship Program

Hundreds gathered at Corporate College East on Feb. 21 for the 2019 Cleveland Internship Summit. Throughout the year, we will be bringing you highlights from the event. Today’s recap focuses on what it takes to build best in class internships.

There’s little doubt that internship programs bring a great amount of value to the companies that utilize them. But for those companies that aren’t already benefitting from the power of internships, getting a program off the ground can seem intimidating.

During the 2019 Cleveland Internship Summit, a panel of companies that had already overcome the initial challenges involved in launching an internship program shared with attendees what they learned during the process. Here are the top 10 insights given by Maureen Pansky of the Oatey Company; Julie Kelley of the City Club of Cleveland; and Annette Kramer of Vizion Solutions during the “Building Best in Class Internships” breakout session.

Tip No. 1: Hire interns the way you’d hire anyone else

The hiring process you have in place for bringing on interns should mirror the process you have in place when you hire full-time employees. Piggyback on the hiring policies and procedures you already have in place and view your internship program as a vehicle for potentially bringing on additional full-time help down the road.

Tip No. 2: Know how to measure success

The metric that defines the success of your program isn’t necessarily about how many interns you recruit. The intangibles, such as watching your interns grow professionally and become more confident during their internship; the fresh ideas they are bringing to your organization; and how well they are communicating with your customers and fellow employees are just as important as raw numbers.

Tip No. 3: Find a partner

It’s natural to immediately think to build pipeline partnerships with colleges, but don’t forget about other sources of potential interns, too, such as high schools and 2-year institutions. Before you begin working with high school students, make sure you are aware of state laws regarding the work minors can do, however.

Tip No. 4: What’s your why?

Before you begin recruiting, take time to define the kinds of projects the interns will be working on beforehand. And also ensure job roles and descriptions are clearly spelled out as well.

Tip No. 5: Learn from others

Also before you get started, talk to representatives from other companies who have implemented successful internship programs. Their blueprint can help shape yours, too. In addition, seek out events, such as the Cleveland Internship Summit, where you can learn about the kinds of things that make for an outstanding internship program. Finally, learn from the students you bring on. Listen to their feedback on how useful your program is and don’t be afraid to change one or two things each session to keep your internship program relevant.

Tip No. 6: Have everything ready in advance

Make sure any projects your interns will be working on are ready to go well in advance. This will help ensure your interns are busy as soon as possible and will also help to prevent your program turning into a daylong social hour. Also, get requests for interns in as early as possible so you can get word out to schools and others in your recruitment pipeline in a timely manner.

Tip No. 7: Think about your onboarding process

Power up the first few days that your interns are on board with an exceptional onboarding process. Get them up to speed on your company’s culture, where to find what, and see to it that your interns connect with their peers in the program. Consider also matching up your interns with an employee mentor or set up regular “lunch and learn” sessions through out the internship that can help address questions interns might have about working in a professional environment. Relatedly, don’t forget to include an orientation session that deals with soft skills such as the company conduct policy, dress code, etc. Encourage questions from your interns and check in with them regularly to make sure things are continuing to go smoothly for them.

Tip No. 8: Empower employees

Give your full-time employees a chance to gain valuable leadership experience by letting them mentor your interns.

Tip No. 9: Know when to recruit

Give yourself plenty of lead time (think eight or nine months) when it comes to sourcing your interns. For example, if your internship is taking place in the summer (which is the most common time companies run their internship programs), make sure you’re recruiting in August and September as that’s when most schools will be holding their career fairs and it’s also when students will be wanting to lock in their summer internships.

Want to know more about internship best practices? Visit the Greater Cleveland Partnership’s Internship Central hub to learn more about how to build a best-in-class internship program at your business.

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  • Next up: 9 Tips to Help You Build a Best-in-Class Internship Program
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  • 9 Tips to Help You Build a Best-in-Class Internship Program

    Hundreds gathered at Corporate College East on Feb. 21 for the 2019 Cleveland Internship Summit. Throughout the year, we will be bringing you highlights from the event. Today’s recap focuses on what it takes to build best in class internships.

    There’s little doubt that internship programs bring a great amount of value to the companies that utilize them. But for those companies that aren’t already benefitting from the power of internships, getting a program off the ground can seem intimidating.

    During the 2019 Cleveland Internship Summit, a panel of companies that had already overcome the initial challenges involved in launching an internship program shared with attendees what they learned during the process. Here are the top 10 insights given by Maureen Pansky of the Oatey Company; Julie Kelley of the City Club of Cleveland; and Annette Kramer of Vizion Solutions during the “Building Best in Class Internships” breakout session.

    Tip No. 1: Hire interns the way you’d hire anyone else

    The hiring process you have in place for bringing on interns should mirror the process you have in place when you hire full-time employees. Piggyback on the hiring policies and procedures you already have in place and view your internship program as a vehicle for potentially bringing on additional full-time help down the road.

    Tip No. 2: Know how to measure success

    The metric that defines the success of your program isn’t necessarily about how many interns you recruit. The intangibles, such as watching your interns grow professionally and become more confident during their internship; the fresh ideas they are bringing to your organization; and how well they are communicating with your customers and fellow employees are just as important as raw numbers.

    Tip No. 3: Find a partner

    It’s natural to immediately think to build pipeline partnerships with colleges, but don’t forget about other sources of potential interns, too, such as high schools and 2-year institutions. Before you begin working with high school students, make sure you are aware of state laws regarding the work minors can do, however.

    Tip No. 4: What’s your why?

    Before you begin recruiting, take time to define the kinds of projects the interns will be working on beforehand. And also ensure job roles and descriptions are clearly spelled out as well.

    Tip No. 5: Learn from others

    Also before you get started, talk to representatives from other companies who have implemented successful internship programs. Their blueprint can help shape yours, too. In addition, seek out events, such as the Cleveland Internship Summit, where you can learn about the kinds of things that make for an outstanding internship program. Finally, learn from the students you bring on. Listen to their feedback on how useful your program is and don’t be afraid to change one or two things each session to keep your internship program relevant.

    Tip No. 6: Have everything ready in advance

    Make sure any projects your interns will be working on are ready to go well in advance. This will help ensure your interns are busy as soon as possible and will also help to prevent your program turning into a daylong social hour. Also, get requests for interns in as early as possible so you can get word out to schools and others in your recruitment pipeline in a timely manner.

    Tip No. 7: Think about your onboarding process

    Power up the first few days that your interns are on board with an exceptional onboarding process. Get them up to speed on your company’s culture, where to find what, and see to it that your interns connect with their peers in the program. Consider also matching up your interns with an employee mentor or set up regular “lunch and learn” sessions through out the internship that can help address questions interns might have about working in a professional environment. Relatedly, don’t forget to include an orientation session that deals with soft skills such as the company conduct policy, dress code, etc. Encourage questions from your interns and check in with them regularly to make sure things are continuing to go smoothly for them.

    Tip No. 8: Empower employees

    Give your full-time employees a chance to gain valuable leadership experience by letting them mentor your interns.

    Tip No. 9: Know when to recruit

    Give yourself plenty of lead time (think eight or nine months) when it comes to sourcing your interns. For example, if your internship is taking place in the summer (which is the most common time companies run their internship programs), make sure you’re recruiting in August and September as that’s when most schools will be holding their career fairs and it’s also when students will be wanting to lock in their summer internships.

    Want to know more about internship best practices? Visit the Greater Cleveland Partnership’s Internship Central hub to learn more about how to build a best-in-class internship program at your business.

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  • Next up: 9 Toxic Workplace Behaviors (and What to Do About Them)
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  • 9 Toxic Workplace Behaviors (and What to Do About Them)

    Toxic behavior can occur within businesses of any size or type. Are any of these nine toxic behaviors common within your workplace?

    You may be thinking that because I run a small business, my employees and my workplace culture are all positive. I want you to know that even small businesses or family-owned businesses can be centers of toxic behaviors.

    It’s important to understand what constitutes toxic behaviors in the workplace and how it can affect your business. Toxic behavior is generally defined as any behavior that negatively impacts others. It can include a workplace that is marked by significant drama and infighting, where personal battles often harm productivity. These behaviors can be exhibited by employees or, in some cases, by management. And no matter who is involved, they can disrupt a business significantly.

    The following are examples of toxic behaviors that could happen within any business:

    Toxic Behavior No. 1: Aggressiveness. This can affect workplace safety as well as productivity.

    Toxic Behavior No. 2: Narcissism. A positive culture includes a balance of give and take, and narcissism or too much self-focus can negatively affect this.

    Toxic Behavior No. 3: Lack of credibility. Mistrust and lack of credibility occur when people don’t follow through with promises, etc.

    Toxic Behavior No. 4: Passivity. Too much passivity can negatively affect productivity.

    Toxic Behavior No. 5: Disorganization. All organizations need focus, discipline and, most of

    all, strong structure.

    Toxic Behavior No. 6: Lack of adaptation. It’s important to have a company culture that can adapt to change.

    Toxic Behavior No. 7: Gossip. Office gossip can cause unwanted conflict and can undermine working relationships and negatively affect team work.

    Toxic Behavior No. 8: Glory seekers. Morale can be seriously affected by workers who claim credit for someone else's achievements, especially when seeking all the glory for a team project or downplaying the efforts of others in order to better highlight their own contribution.

    Toxic Behavior No. 9: Intimidation or bullying. Intimidation or bullying of any kind seriously affects company morale and can lead to legal actions taken against a company that allows this type of behavior.

    There are steps that a business can take to avoid and deal with toxic behaviors.

    Step 1. Look for signs of toxic behavior when conducting initial interviews.

    Step 2. Always check references and train your managers to spot signs of toxic behavior and how to deal with it.

    Step 3. Set up a way for employees to report toxic behaviors that protects them from retaliation. This can mean an anonymous reporting system or other procedure where they are protected.

    Step 4. Make sure all employee behaviors and actions are included in their performance measurements or reviews.

    Step 5. Try to detect any issues as soon as possible. This allows you to offer education or training if necessary.

    Step 6. If all else fails, you may have to terminate the employee for their toxic behavior. Be sure your employee manual includes these behaviors as unacceptable and that they can be used as grounds for termination. Document all incidents and any talks or other forms of communication with the employee prior to any termination or suspension for their behaviors.

    President, SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Speaker, Trainer, Corporate Security ExpertTimothy A. Dimoff, CPP, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority in high-risk workplace and human resource security and crime issues. He is a Certified Protection Professional; a certified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training; a member of the Ohio and International Narcotic Associations; the Ohio and National Societies for Human Resource Managers; and the American Society for Industrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis in criminology, from Dennison University. Contact him at info@sacsconsulting.com

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  • Next up: A 5 Step Plan to Implementing Safety Inspections
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  • A 5 Step Plan to Implementing Safety Inspections

    Ensuring a safe workplace should be the goal of every business. Performing regular inspections of both the workplace environment and the business’ equipment is crucial in creating a workplace that is a safe place for employees. So how do you go about performing a worksite analysis that will address all of the potential danger areas of which you should be aware? Here’s a five-point plan courtesy of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration that will get you started in the right direction:

    Ensuring a safe workplace should be the goal of every business. Performing regular inspections of both the workplace environment and the business’ equipment is crucial in creating a workplace that is a safe place for employees.

    So how do you go about performing a worksite analysis that will address all of the potential danger areas of which you should be aware? Here’s a five-point plan courtesy of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration that will get you started in the right direction:

    1. Request consultation

    It’s never a bad idea to get input from the experts. OSHA offers a Consultation Program that provides comprehensive coverage of all of the dangers that might lurk at your business. Small business owners might also consider hiring an expert private consultant, too.

    2. Employee reviews

    From time to time, review with each employee their jobs. Break their duties down step by step to see what invisible hazards might exist in their normal day to day.

    3. Self-inspections

    In addition to consulting with outside sources, take time to self-inspect. Some things to keep in mind during these self-inspections include:

    • Ensuring fire safety standards are being met (i.e., fire alarm system is tested annually, there are enough fire extinguishers and they are readily available, etc.)
    • Are employees wearing safety equipment, such as goggles or shields, where appropriate?
    • Aisles and walkways are clear of obstructions
    • Floor openings are protected on all sides by covers, guard rails, etc.
    • Worn equipment and tools are being replaced as needed

    4. Analyze

    Look through the past several years’ worth of injury reports. Do you see a pattern emerging? That might indicate red flags that need to be addressed.

    5. Self-policing

    It’s one thing to set up formal workplace safety procedures. It’s another to follow through and ensure they are being carried out effectively. Small businesses must ensure all employees are aware of the business’ workplace safety policy and the ramifications of not adhering to it. It’s also important that your staff feels comfortable telling management when they see something that violates the company’s safety protocol.

    Of course, the tips listed above just represent a starting point when it comes to workplace safety. For a more detailed look at what you can do to make sure your business is as safe as possible, check out OSHA’s Small Business Handbook, located here

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  • Next up: A Millennial and Baby Boomer Talk Out their Differences
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  • A Millennial and Baby Boomer Talk Out their Differences

    In my work here at the Greater Cleveland Partnership and COSE, I am lucky to interact with many of our Northeast Ohio businesses each day. In doing so, there’s a common thread in the interactions had between Baby Boomers and their Millennial employees. While the following conversation is not one heard first-hand, it’s my best guess as to how a Baby Boomer and a Millennial employee would discuss the workplace dynamics between the two generations.

    In my work here at the Greater Cleveland Partnership and COSE, I am lucky to interact with many of our Northeast Ohio businesses each day. In doing so, there’s a common thread in the interactions had between Baby Boomers and their Millennial employees. While the following conversation is not one heard first-hand, it’s my best guess as to how a Baby Boomer and a Millennial employee would discuss the workplace dynamics between the two generations.

    Baby Boomer Business Owner: Help! Millennials are taking over my office! They’re Snapchatting everywhere! What do I do?

    Millennial: First off, calm down.  Close out of Facebook and let’s talk. Yes, we Millennials are heavy users of social media but did you know a lot of us use it to develop business for OUR company. Do you know how many of our clients and prospects are on Twitter, Facebook, and yes, even Snapchat?

    Baby Boomer:   OK, OK.  But my problem with your generation extends beyond just social channels–I mean, look at what you’re wearing! You’re wearing jeans, boots, the sleeves of your shirt are rolled up.  I’ve dressed the same—PROFESSIONALLY—every day at this job for the past 35 years!

    Millennial: Again, calm down. I just got back from an appointment with one of our many manufacturing clients. If I walk into their facility in a suit and tie to take a tour and meet with their floor workers, I’d be laughed out of there. And tomorrow, I’ll be meeting with a law firm downtown and will be wearing a suit. See, the thing about us Millennials is we’re flexible and have no trouble adapting to any given situation and …  Wait … Did you say you’ve been working here for the past 35 years?

    Baby Boomer:  Yep! Do you not see yourself working here for the next 20 or 30 years?

    Millennial: Honestly, I don’t know where I’ll be in five years, let alone 20. Can we talk about ways I can grow and develop into a leadership role that allows me to be here until I’m 60 years old?

    Baby Boomer:  See, that’s another thing with you Millennials. You want the leadership role, but you’re not willing to put in the hard work needed to get there.  Are you all really that entitled and lazy?

    Millennial: Would you prefer I come in everyday without any ambition or drive?  Just guessing here but that might be why so many of my Millennial colleagues both here at OUR company and others are so disengaged. Disengagement is not laziness.

    Baby Boomer: So it’s an entitlement thing?  You all think you deserve a leadership position right away?

    Millennial:  Not at all. If we have lazy and entitled employees here, that’s a workplace culture problem–not a Millennial one. I don’t think there’s anything wrong in wanting to know how one can grow into a leadership position long-term at your company. Some would call that being proactive. You say I’m entitled; I say I’m hungry. I’m not demanding a promotion right now, but this is my career we’re talking about here. What I want to know is how I can earn the role I see myself in one day.

    Baby Boomer:  That’s fair. But how do we do that?

    Millennial: Can we find some time each week to sit down and chat?

    Baby Boomer: That’s the last thing I want, another Millennial gunning for my job and wanting to meet with me constantly so I can pat you on the back, hold your hand, and tell you you’re doing a great job. You know, not everyone should get a trophy!

    Millennial:  Hold on. Have you ever considered–as a Baby Boomer who has forgotten more about our industry than I might ever learn–that we Millennials might be that desperate for a mentor of some kind before you retire?

    If I’m lucky enough to be in your position one day, I’d be flattered if a younger employee wanted to pick my brain.  I can promise you it’s not a threat when I ask about your day-to-day work and seek your advice on things that pop up in mine. 

    Baby Boomer:  I guess I never thought about it like that. 

    Millennial:  I can guarantee you I do not speak for all Millennials with what we’re talking about today but it’s important to me that you know we’re not all alike and of one mindset. 

    Some of us are just as motivated, driven, inspired, and -- believe it or not – committed as you are now and were when you were our age.

    Business Owner:  Whew, well that makes me feel better. I’m glad we had this talk. 

    Millennial:  Me too, want to head to Happy Hour?

    Baby Boomer:  What’s that? (Just kidding!)

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  • Next up: A New Option for Small Business Health Insurance
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  • A New Option for Small Business Health Insurance

    We are excited to announce the creation of a new option for small business owners to access health benefits for themselves, their employees and their families—The COSE Health and Wellness Trust—a self-insured, multiple employer welfare arrangement (MEWA) designed for companies with up to 50 employees participating in health benefits. In anticipation of the next wave of transition required by the Affordable Care Act, the COSE Health and Wellness Trust gives small business owners another option to meet the health benefit needs of their companies.

    We are excited to announce the creation of a new option for small business owners to access health benefits for themselves, their employees and their families—The COSE Health and Wellness Trust—a self-insured, multiple employer welfare arrangement (MEWA) designed for companies with up to 50 employees participating in health benefits.

    In anticipation of the next wave of transition required by the Affordable Care Act, the COSE Health and Wellness Trust gives small business owners another option to meet the health benefit needs of their companies.

    This self-insurance option is a lot like the option that unions and large companies have in the market today. Similarly, the COSE Health and Wellness Trust leverages the combined size of many small employers working together and balances the risk across the pool of companies.

    Unlike community-rated ACA plans, the plans available through the COSE Health and Wellness Trust recognize the unique preferred health risk of most small businesses.  The plans that will be offered have far fewer restrictions on the benefit structures that are available under the ACA. Many of the plan structures reflect the kind of benefit options that were common to small businesses before the ACA and that exist in their current grandfathered and transitional plans. Those transitional plans must be ended by January 1, 2018.

    And for the smallest of businesses, the COSE Health and Wellness Trust provides an option for group coverage for small businesses with no employees. Today, new small business owners with no employees can only access insurance through the individual market. Only grandfathered plans and transitional plans (that are slated to go away by January 1, 2018) exist as additional options here. The COSE Health and Wellness Trust will be a new option with plans available to these small business owners without employees to provide coverage for themselves and their families.

    The COSE Health and Wellness Trust will be an additional renewal option available to members of COSE and the Greater Cleveland Partnership with less than 50 eligible employees and we are currently providing quotes for coverage as soon as September 1st.  Getting a quote is easy for those enrolled in our insurance program. You can request rates for this option effective immediately. Those members not enrolled or small business owners that are not yet a member can also get a quote for coverage and then determine if the plans and membership make sense for them.

    A Little Background About How We Got Here…

    When the ACA became law in 2010 and was implemented in 2014, our focus was on finding the best option for each small business under the new law. For some of our members, ACA was the best option—either because the health status of their group benefited by the community rating feature of ACA or the subsidies available due to the income of the owner or their employees were of benefit.  For the vast majority of our members, however, the best option was to preserve the ability to stay on their current plan—either by allowing them to elect “grandfathered” status or enrolling them in a transitional or “grandmothered” plan to delay their move to ACA.

    Now, the next wave of ACA changes will require that as of January 1, 2018, all small businesses that want group insurance and that are not “grandfathered” must be in an ACA compliant plan. The law requires that the “grandmothered” transitional fully insured plans will be eliminated. The only way to stay on an old plan is if you were on it before the law was enacted in 2010 and you’ve done everything required to establish and maintain “grandfathered” status.  While some of those plans will still fit, they limit the ability to make any significant benefit changes. The shift to ACA compliant plans is going to result in rates that are more expensive for most companies and, for many, rate increases of 30 percent to 70 percent are likely.  The COSE Health and Wellness Trust is an option to access coverage outside of the requirements of ACA.

    The Solution

    The COSE Health and Wellness Trust leverages more than 40 years of experience within COSE providing small business benefit solutions and our long term relationship with Medical Mutual. We have selected Medical Mutual to continue to work with us to support several of the underlying actuarial and insurance functions of the COSE Health and Wellness Trust.  Medical Mutual’s long-term commitment to the small business community as a local, Northeast Ohio company that is significantly invested in the small business market distinguishes them as a part of this solution. We also have engaged actuaries, legal advisers and a variety of other resources to help structure and guide the COSE Health and Wellness Trust to ensure it is a solid, viable, long-term resource for our members.

    We are pleased to announce that after more than a year of work on developing this plan and a rigorous review, the Ohio Department of Insurance awarded our Certificate of Authority earlier this week.

    We are confident that the COSE Health and Wellness Trust will be a great option for the vast majority of our members. The licensed COSE team at Medical Mutual and more than 200 specially trained brokers are able to talk with small business owners about the fit of this option with their needs.  As with other self-funded arrangements, there are some additional responsibilities involved in utilizing this plan, but based on the way we have structured it, we think they will be manageable and make sense for a broad set of small business owners.

    To learn more about the COSE Health and Wellness Trust and to find out if it is a good solution for your benefit needs, contact the COSE Sales and Service team at Medical Mutual at (440) 878-5930 or talk with your broker. 

    And, if you like the plan you are on now, know that COSE will continue to offer a range of fully insured plans side-by-side with the COSE Health and Wellness Trust through Medical Mutual and we will continue to make our members’ grandfathered plans available.

    We hope you’ll take the time to evaluate the fit of the COSE Health and Wellness Trust with your own needs.  As the ACA continues to evolve, we have continued to update what we can do to help you adapt to it.   In every area of your business, since 1972, our goal has been to be here to help you grow and succeed.  We hope that once you take a look at the plans available in the COSE Health and Wellness Trust, you’ll agree these options give you one more tool to achieve your success.


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