Calling All Ships


When you think of development opportunities, think ships: internships and mentorships for example. These types of programs have been gaining momentum in the past several years, and
for good reason.


The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reports that, from the mid-1980s to the mid-2000s, the share of college graduates participating in at least one internship rose from less than 10 percent to over 80 percent.  NACE offers some recommendations for internships that carry impact for the employer and the interns:

  • Provide interns with assignments involving concrete work. They want to use the experience gained in an internship to help launch their careers; make sure the work is real and can contribute to the team.
  • Offer flex-time, which is especially critical if the program is during the school year.
  • Bring in speakers from your executive or specialized ranks. Young, learning professionals love the opportunity to hear from top-level executives; such opportunities provide a look at successful, notable career paths in different yet valuable directions.


A growing part of my own business is helping organizations develop a corporate mentorship program. I assist a given company by providing training and workbooks for mentors and mentees, as well as regular check-ins with the mentors. Some ideas for strong programs include:

  • On-boarding – pairing an employee with a more experienced one. These pairings help acclimate the new team member to the company culture, the “politics” of a company and developing their internal networks.
  • Special interest groups – I am currently helping a mid-size (2,000+ employees) company develop a women’s mentoring program. It’s a male-dominated industry; the company wants to be intentional about progressing women with opportunities toward the ranks of leadership.
  • Corporate-wide program – A few years ago, I helped a company (350+) start a mentor program. The CEO and his entire executive team served as mentors for the first year, which gave tremendous credence to the program and their commitment to talent development.

Of course, there are other “ships” to consider: apprenticeships, leadership courses, etc. Those type of programs along with internships and mentorships can assist your organization in “recruiting and retaining talent” – the hot button phrase these days in companies all-around the globe.


Susan Combs

Susan Combs, MBA and Professional Certified Coach, works with coaching clients to create fresh starts, enhance their leadership skills and increase their confidence. She is an authorized licensee of the Fit Leader's Program. Susan provides one-on-one coaching, DiSC team-building training and manages corporate mentor programs. She lives in Lansing with her son, Max, and their golden retriever puppy. Visit or for more information.

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