The days are gone when interns got the team coffee, picked up the boss’s dry cleaning, and Xeroxed copies 24/7.
Today’s interns are valuable members of an organization who work on real-life projects. Take Adobe, where summer research interns play a key role in developing many of the apps the company has launched over the past decade and make a monthly salary that would add up to $70,000 on an annual basis.
Equally important is the fact that recruiting interns—and working towards developing an internship program—can add a lot of value to an overall recruiting strategy, even for small employers.
“Internships give businesses the ability to identify talent early, develop a relationship during the internship, and create an inside track to hiring top candidates for full-time positions after they graduate,” says Brian Weed, CEO of GradStaff, a career matchmaker for recent college graduates and companies that are looking to fill entry-level jobs.
For instance, employers touting internship programs get the opportunity to gain access to campus career fairs promoting not only internships, but full-time opportunities, all while marketing the employer brand to the greater college population.
“The ability to offer internships puts organizations front and center with regard to the student population and gives employers an opportunity to grow brand recognition at the campus,” says Sean Schofield, Assistant Director of Internships at Cohen Career Center, William & Mary, a public research university located in Williamsburg, VA.
Internship programs also provide these benefits for employers, says Weed:
- Interns give businesses an ability to provide incremental capacity at a modest cost.
- Interns can help complete special projects that are important, but keep getting pushed off due to limited bandwidth.
- Interns can fill in for workers during the summer vacation season.
- Interns can help businesses establish a presence at targeted colleges, with the ability to network and find other talented candidates for full-time roles.
- Interns can help build goodwill with key business contacts, such as hiring the child of a key customer for a summer internship program.
“Internships are educational experiences, and experiential learning is a fantastic mechanism for employers to access fresh talent and new ideas that will impact their industry now and in years to come,” adds Schofield.
Tips for Building Out a Formal Internship Program
But before you get too gung-ho in your search for bright-eyed, bushy-tailed summer interns, take the time to formalize a dedicated internship program. Planning your approach means you’ll be more likely to interview and hire the right interns and properly train and onboard these workers. Weed also recommends putting a single someone in charge of managing the program.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) identified the 15 Best Practices for Internship Programs, and note the importance of having a dedicated internship coordinator/manager to ensure it runs smoothly and stays focused on the criteria for success. Or, hire a grad student in HR for an internship leading the internship program.
Remember, the intern is also analyzing the company. Your reputation is on the line, so make it a rewarding experience, even if the intern doesn’t turn into a full-time hire. The best internship programs fully commit to making it a win-win experience for both the intern and employer.
“Don’t treat interns like temporary employees,” says Teresa Green, Head of Global Talent Acquisition at CEB, a global best practice insight and technology company. “Ensure they are welcomed to the team and included in most employee activities and meetings. This will provide the interns with a well-rounded experience.”
“Spending a little extra time onboarding interns will pay off in the long run,” he says. “Interns also require appropriate feedback, so we encourage employers to hold regular meetings with them. This also helps develop relationships, and a supported intern is often a great advocate who promotes internships at the employer to other students.”
About the Author: Matt Krumrie of College Recruiter
Matt Krumrie is a freelance writer and digital media professional. He regularly contributes to College Recruiter, which believes that every student and recent graduate deserves a great career. College Recruiter features thousands of articles, blogs, videos, and other content as well as 300,000 internship and entry-level postings for open jobs. Matt’s writing focuses on careers and jobs, business and sports. He is also an expert resume writer who works with clients all over the U.S. to help write professional resumes that get results. Follow Matt on Twitter @MattKrumrie.