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How an Internship Program Can Build Culture and Cultivate Connections

July 14, 2020
Patti Wilson with Interns

Interns Vanessa Chavez (left) and Anabel Korrodi (right) with Patti Wilson (center), Executive Vice President of Human Resources.

Culture creates an environment that sets businesses up for success. Creating a strong culture is not only rewarding in the overall atmosphere of your office, but it can lead to improved communication, cohesion, and productivity. One way to aid the growth of your company’s culture is to create an internship program that brings young, talented people into the office who can learn what it takes to be successful while bringing new perspectives to your business.

“We want a steady desire for top talent to want to work with us. Internships help us understand ourselves and we can understand what the new graduates are needing to be successful,” says Patti Wilson.

Patti Wilson, Executive Vice President of Human Resources at The Bank of San Antonio, is the leader of our internship program and believes that internships are an invaluable asset to all businesses in 2020.

“We have now entered into a workplace era that contains four generations at once. Some see this as problematic and others, like me, relish the potential learning and teaching that can be done. If one has a growth mindset—the embrace of the “yet”—one can continue to grow and learn from anyone, no matter their age.”

“Reverse mentorship” is a concept that Patti champions. Originally developed by Jack Welch, reverse mentorship encourages younger employees or interns to team up with their more senior colleagues to exchange ideas. This partnership creates a flow of information that goes both ways and enriches the culture of the company by fostering collaboration.

“Innovation is necessary and seeing life and business through another pair of eyes can reveal so much. The best leaders understand that they can be both teachers and students in every moment. The idea of an internship program should not just be about helping that intern prepare for a career, it can also be about getting advice and perspective on what could be better about your business today.”

As for how your business can begin to implement an internship program, Patti has some advice.

“Having a plan for the intern program is first—where will they be, what will they be doing and how do you elevate that for the short-term experience? Then you need to decide if you want one person or a group. Finally, what is in it for the intern? Be sure that they get something out of this, like offer them a project to complete and allow them to experiment in a free zone so when they fail—and they will—it teaches, not hurts.”

Bolster your company culture by bringing interns aboard. You’ll create an environment of learning and they’ll provide a fresh perspective. Starting an internship program takes time and dedication, but the rewards will be worthwhile. 

>> Learn more about our St. Mary’s University interns


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