In today’s tight labor market, college interns can be both be an effective source of labor and a talent pipeline for future employees – especially after weeks of tailored on-the-job training at your NYC-based company/offices!
Entrepreneur Magazine estimates there are 15 million college students looking for summer internships every year and says internships are one of the most successful ways to attract and keep great talent.
Lisa Curtis, Kuli Kuli Founder and a Forbes Magazine contributing writer, suggests that companies should hire interns with an eye to the future. “We hire interns as if we’re hiring full-time employees,” she says. A former intern herself, Curtis adds that by conducting multiple interviews and reference checks, it ensures that her company is bringing on the best people. One of the wins for interns is that it provides them with valuable experience on how the hiring process works.
WayUp CEO Liz Wessel says, “I like to think of it (internships) as a two-to-three-month interview.” Investing the time and effort beforehand to vet applicants, and during the internship to train, mentor and provide relevant business experience can lead to the perfect new hire down the road.
Business News Daily recommends five steps to developing and working with intern talent. While some suggestions may seem like no-brainers, the extent to which companies invest in each one can be crucial to building a win-win program.
The coordinator should be investing time in your interns to find out their career goals and aspirations. That will help you assess how each intern will or won’t fit with your company. Working with interns offers the coordinator(s) a first-hand opportunity to see how quickly someone learns and adapts to the work and the company culture, and whether they have what it takes to be a future employee.
Giving your interns a positive junior-level mentor provides them with an informal relationship that promotes professional growth. If this is an intern’s first corporate experience, they may not feel comfortable asking questions of their direct supervisor, upper level manager or even the hiring manager. But a mentor relationship can be a judgement-free zone, offering dynamic feedback for the whole work experience, beyond just the assigned tasks.
It’s important to set goals and track the progress of your interns. Business consultants, Doug and Polly White advise companies to define a clear project that can be completed during the internship. Working a project from start to finish — that is relevant to your business — gives an intern not only a sense of accomplishment, but also a clear understanding of what it’s like to work in your industry.
That can make the internships as valuable to the interns, as their work contribution is to your company. It can also help them build a portfolio for interns who have their eye on positions in creative industries.
Like any employee, an intern will have strengths and areas where they need to develop further. Letting them know both – with kind, yet candid feedback, a surefire way to help them grow. Weekly one-on-one meetings create an environment where coordinators can provide detailed work plans for the coming week and solicit feedback about how things are going. Constant communication with interns helps them stay on track and clearly focus on their role within the company.
And even if a performance appraisal isn’t required by the intern’s college or university, take the time to evaluate his or her performance and share your assessment. This young man or woman wants and needs the full value of the intern experience, including how they’re doing and what they might work to improve upon at the next internship or full-time job.
The coordinator of your internship program is its cornerstone. He or she is the linchpin for both your company and these “temporary hires” to ensure the best internship experience for each individual. The coordinator is the constant integrant – overseeing the intern’s journey from application, interviews and acceptance, to settling into short-term housing and starting the job.
Once the internship ends, it’s important to stay in touch with your interns to proactively network with them – who knows where they might land! Plus, keeping the lines of communication open also makes it easier to offer them a job in the future and compete with bigger, more prestigious companies if you’ve discovered top talent.
WePow offers more practical steps to ensure your internship program will be a two-way success. And the 15 best practices for internship programs recommended by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) are worth a look, too. Things like providing meaningful and REAL work assignments, holding orientations and providing housing and relocation assistance are all part of building an effective program.
intrnz President Yun Suk Sun echoes the importance of helping interns find quality temporary student housing. “Anybody’s who’s tried to find a decent apartment in New York City knows it’s as hard as trying to find fresh seafood in a land-locked state,” she says. “And the last thing parents want to worry about when their college student lands a plum internship is finding clean, secure, modern accommodations,” she says.
For more detailed how-tos and recommendations, download a copy of NACE’s Building A Premier Internship Program: A Practical Guide for Employers.
Setting your interns up for success includes taking the guesswork out of summer student housing during their internships. In New York City, direct them to one of our three strategic locations. With amenities, activities and on-site staff to smooth any potential wrinkles; we strive to create a comfortable environment for interns so they can focus on work. Please fill out the form on our For Employers page for more information.
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