Build Your Intern Program into a Rotational Development Program

Discover how to build your internship program into a rotational development program

If you’ve been running an intern program for your organization for a while and would like to know how to grow it into an even bigger part of your talent pipeline strategy, consider building it to the next level of sophistication as a Rotational Development Program. These programs build on what makes your current intern program successful: providing meaningful learning experiences for your interns while also enabling you to identify talent that you want to bring onto your regular workforce.

But, instead of keeping the interns in the same roles for their entire tenure, the program is designed to have them shift roles on a periodic basis so that they can try something a little different and learn more about another area of your company, while more supervisors and teams get a chance to see what they have to offer. From Starbucks to Boeing, many major American employers are adopting this type of model for hiring interns or post-graduates. As employers struggle to fill key roles like accounting and engineering while their current staff are retiring at an accelerated rate, the idea of growing future leaders in key roles right out of college is appealing to employers.

Generally, there are two types of Rotational Development Programs – intradepartmental and interdepartmental:

  • Intradepartmental internships allow an employee to rotate through different teams within one business function of the company. Genentech has created an excellent example of this type of program allowing their interns to focus on a specific area of a large company. 
  • Interdepartmental internships allow interns to shift around a variety of departments within the company. Allstate has developed this type of program allowing their interns to sample everything from customer service to HR to sales and marketing. These interdepartmental rotational development programs are generally for interns on a leadership track, such as MBA students.

The major markers for a successful Rotational Development Program are structure and creativity. The structure is important to ensure the program runs smoothly and transitions from one role to the next are handled professionally and efficiently. The creativity is needed to make the program a unique and memorable experience for the intern that makes your company stand out from the crowd. It is imperative that a company establishes a program that meets their talent pipeline development needs, gives their interns the best possible opportunities for growth and development, and enhances the employer brand and reputation to encourage future candidates to apply.

The benefits of Rotational Development Programs generally include:


  • Earn in-depth, hands-on experience well beyond what is possible in the classroom or in a traditional internship
  • Try a variety of positions/departments at a company to find out what type of work they excel at and enjoy the most
  • Learn how the company works behind the scenes and how different roles and departments work together
  • Develop leadership skills that will be critically important to advance in a career


  • Ability to gauge how well an intern fits into their workplace and specific teams
  • Evaluate an employee’s aptitudes and capacity for growth
  • Assess which department in a company is the best fit for the individual
  • Train prospective entry level employees on company protocols and processes
  • Identify skills and behavioral traits that may enable the individual to fit in a role that wasn’t originally considered based on their resume

Rotational Development Programs are one of many ways that forward-looking companies are changing the face of internships and talent pipeline development at a time when employers need to compete ever more effectively to recruit and retain high-quality people for their workforce. If you would like to learn more about how to take your internship program to the next level, contact us. We’re here to help!

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