The Great Resignation makes finding new talent hard. But there is a way you can garner fresh, young workers and keep your talent pipeline full. It’s called an internship program. No, it’s not new, but thanks to the pandemic many organizations have let their internship programs fall by the wayside. Now’s the time to reignite it or if you don’t have one create an internship program.
The pandemic hurt many internship programs because companies were busy trying to figure out how to have a hybrid or completely remote workforce. Then the Great Resignation came into play and companies were scrambling to keep their people and focused on offering new benefits and compensation packages. Now that things have settled down a bit, employers need to place more attention on their dusty internship program.
True, it’s a little late with summer already here. But not all college students have an internship yet. Look to your own people and see if any of their children, relatives or neighbors are looking for an internship. Then get ready for next year’s crop of interns.
Worth the time and money
Internship programs are worthwhile investments because they allow your business to invest in its own future by developing new talent. Molding fresh young talent is a great way to create employees that share your vision for the future.
Interns also allow your regular staff to focus on more pressing issues. Now, we aren’t saying only give interns clerical or menial tasks. Those tasks should be no more than 20% of their work. Remember, you want your interns to learn, value their experience and come back as full-time employees. And when you’re short staffed, interns make recruitment a lot easier.
And interns are a great bang for your buck!
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), 70.4% of interns receive a job offer, and 79.6% accept it! That translates to 56% of interns becoming full-time employees. Even better news, the one-year retention rate is 71.4% for interns that are hired with internal experience and 59% with external internship experience.
Keep in mind, however, that interns aren’t free help. They can be, in certain situations, but it’s best to pay them for two reasons:
- You can avoid all kinds of legal issues. The FLSA only allows unpaid interns in specific situations where the internship is mostly educational and benefits the intern more than the company, and
- You’ll attract more qualified candidates!
Not only will internships benefit the company, but they’ll give your employees a chance to mentor, train and educate the next generation of employees.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to setting up an internship program.
Step 1: Assess your needs
To start or revamp an internship program, the first thing you need to do is assess your need. Where in your organization can you place interns, what resources will you need and what’s your budget.
Some questions your organization should ask itself are:
- What type of work do you have that’ll give interns quality work and a great learning experience?
- Can you commit the time and resources an intern would need?
- Is part of the organization’s mission to help mold talent?
Step 2 Create a plan
Your program should be formally written out and documented before any recruiting is done.
When designing your internship program, you need to consider:
- Goals for the program and the interns
- Qualities you want your interns to have
- Who will mentor the program – it’s ideal to have a few senior staff to help promote and run the program
- Who will train and supervise the interns
- What will the onboarding process be like
- What tasks/jobs will the interns be responsible for
- How will you assess an intern’s progress
- How much you’ll pay the interns, and
- How long the internships will last.
Remember the goal of your program is to develop future employees with marketable skills. To get these skills, interns need opportunities to shine. How else will you decide if you want to make the intern an offer after the internship is over?
Step 3: Recruit and hire
Ideally, you want to start looking for interns several months before you want the program to start. Most internship programs start recruiting at the end of winter to early spring, so interns can hit the ground running once school is over.
Places you should promote your program are job boards, local colleges and universities, your company’s website and social media platforms.
It’s also a good idea to send out emails to employees to see if they have any children, relatives, friends or neighbors who might want an internship.
Despite interns being temporary help, don’t think of them that way. When you recruit and interview candidates look for the same qualities you would in a full-time candidate. The higher the quality candidate you choose, the higher their quality of work. Remember, your end goal should be to hire them full-time even if you don’t in the end.
Look for candidates who are enthusiastic and motivated!
Step 4: Onboarding and training
Spend the first few days introducing your interns to the rest of the department, going over company policies, HR paperwork, showing the intern around the building if onsite, training, and even some fun activities like going out to lunch or virtual “meet the interns” happy hour.
Assign a specific mentor to each intern. The purpose is to have someone the intern can go to for whatever they need or any questions they have. Have this person check in with their intern every day to make sure they’re meeting the goals you’ve set for them.
Then when the internship is over, have that person conduct an exit interview to find out how the intern liked the program. Ask them if there is anything you could change to make the program better.
Step 5: Make an offer
After the internship is over, have your mentors, program directors, managers and executives go over the achievements of the interns. Did they meet the goals you set for them? Did they exceed the goals? How did they fit in with the other interns and employees? Then decide if you want to make them an offer for full-time work if they’ve graduated already or part-time work if they’re still in school.
Internship programs are a great way to keep your pipeline full of trained candidates, and they are worth the time and money you put into them.