Internship Panel

On Tuesday morning, March 19, King Street Center hosted a Business Breakfast for interested guests to hear an expert panel on the topic of internships. We looked at these pre-professional opportunities from all angles – the employer, the students, those who coach them, and the community at large.

Thanks so much to Brett Smith and Laurie Francis from Fuse, Pat Boera from the Champlain College Career Team, Liz Dohrman from VBSR Intern Program, Emma Katz Champlain College ’19 and Fuse Intern, and Eric Ode from Champlain Investment Partners.

Conversation was wide ranging from:

How do we best prepare students to be a successful intern?

Managing interns is time consuming. What is the tipping point for businesses?

What strategies should employers use to make sure interns are productive, learning, and contributing to the company’s outcomes?

How can we, as a community, make sure that we are paving a path for ALL students, regardless of race, socio-economic status, or life experience, to gain exposure to these opportunities?

While the discussion was rich and we didn’t catch it all, here’s a brief synopsis of what we learned!

Students, interns:

Be open, be curious, be professional (phones away! appropriate dress).

Join the all hands on deck approach, take initiative, communicate about absences/schedule changes.

Use ethical judgement.

Bring your hard & soft skills – you’re learning new material, reading current articles, best-practices – share it!

Share your personal passions – they can help you shine.

Ask a lot of questions, know that that you’re in a safe space to try – and stumble.


Be legally compliant, pay ($10-$15/hr on average), or offer credit.

Prepare, prepare, prepare (!) – give proper orientation, consistent schedule, consider realistic time span of the internship.

Give ownership of a goal-oriented project with a final deliverable/presentation, accountability.

Provide variety – in addition to large project, invite to different department meetings, include in events, client calls, brainstorming sessions.

Be a mentor, and make sure you have buy-in from senior leadership and managers.

Be open to learning! Your interns are accessing timely information and experiences in the classroom as well as cutting-edge technology/social media platforms. Let them teach you and your team.

Give junior staff the opportunity to grow their own leadership skills by giving them the intern management responsibility.

Give interns a safe space to fail – offer constructive, timely feedback. Teach them how to be professionals. Remind them of the basic skills and don’t be afraid to push for excellence.

Showcase your business! Here’s an opportunity to entice young talent to stay in the field.


Are we complicit in hoarding dreams by offering internships to friends, kids-of-colleagues, within our own social network?

Be open to the student who isn’t a superstar – give borderline kids a chance!

Offer awareness-building opportunities for high school students to learn about your industry and the educational path to meet entry criteria. Help them to set early goals and learn some basic business skills.

The McClure Foundation provides research about pathways to careers helping young people to identify their own path.

Consider adults who are looking to break into the workforce.

Some resources we learned about this morning we’d like to share:

VBSR Employer Toolbox

Department of Labor Compliance Guide, Fact Sheet#71: Intership Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act

Handshake: UVM

Handshake: Champlain College

Handshake: St. Michael’s College

Dream Hoarders, by Richard Reeves