Back in November, I urged technology transfer offices (TTOs) to take caution when using interns. They can be a great help… if you structure it right.
There’s a lot more to say about this topic. So, I decided to write a paper detailing the best practices for effective TTO internship programs.
My recommendations are based on Fuentek’s experience with establishing TTO internship programs at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and several other universities.
So what did we discover in establishing these programs?
Begin the hiring process as early as possible to ensure the best possible pool of applicants.
Choose the Right Students
Look for MBA students with technical backgrounds who are ending their first year. They should be available through the summer and on a part-time basis during their second year. (Read more about the importance of choosing the right students.)
Focus on Screening
Have interns work only on screenings, not other aspects of tech transfer like marketing. And use them to screen incoming technologies to prevent a backlog of technologies.
Provide step-by-step guidance on the entire screening process. Explain how the interns’ role is part of the bigger picture as well as the finer details of their assignments. Proper training of interns is critically important.
Expect a Learning Curve
Be prepared for the interns to take longer than professional staff to complete a screening (8 to 15 hours, versus 1 to 4 hours). Account for this additional time in your expectations and schedules. (Read more about expectations for interns.)
Evaluate and Improve
Evaluate the interns’ work along the way. Check for thoroughness of information. Validate their recommendations. This lets you know if any modifications to the training are needed. (Read more about the importance of feedback and mentoring.)
Developing and implementing intern programs — including training for the interns — is part of what we do here at Fuentek. You can read more of our insights on intern programs or contact us to discuss how Fuentek can help your TTO establish an effective internship program.