Springtime signifies the start of nicer weather and new things to come, especially for college students who are finishing up the academic year and transitioning into the mindset of summer internships. For many employers, the hiring process for interns has been completed, and it is now time to gather the logistics of the program to ensure a successful summer. With job openings on the rise across all industries, it’s not too early to start thinking about how summer interns can transition into excellent candidates for future positions.
The candidate experience for entry level talent starts now, so stay proactive by establishing a valuable internship that leads to a memorable impression of your organization in four steps:
There are a few questions to keep top of mind when planning for a strategic internship program:
Employees with mentors are twice as likely to stay with a company more than five years, so why not take that methodology and apply it to interns early on? Mentors can establish a clear path for an individual to follow and share advice based off of experience, hosting regular one-on-one sessions in addition to formal performance reviews to establish a candid environment for feedback and questions about the internship experience overall.
It may seem like the obvious choice is to select a mentor with a heavy workload to avoid a shortage of work for the intern, however it is crucial to validate that the mentor chosen has the bandwidth to invest in the intern’s development and serves as a great role model. In thinking about future positions, assign a power group of mentors who possess the skills you would want in an ideal candidate. Communicating ways to strengthen skills throughout the internship can help a mentor shape future employees and show that the organization is truly invested in the students it hires.
The most valuable internships allow students to be treated as full-time employees with a feeling of purpose and contribution to their team. It’s especially important during a summer internship to prepare opportunities for interns to present their work cross-functionally to many different stakeholders or work with other teams to learn how each area of the business operates. Managers in different departments who collaborate often can use this as an opportunity to incorporate cross-functional projects and gauge how interns interact with others in the organization.
With 81 percent of college seniors willing to accept a full-time job in a field unrelated to their college major, it can be very beneficial to expose interns to other areas of the business. They may even discover a career path they are extremely passionate about because of it, and become a great candidate for a future opening that they would have never otherwise applied to. After all, work experience is valued by 76 percent of entry-level recruiters over a candidate’s college major.
The way students are sent off at the end of the summer can be a make or break moment as they head back to school and start to think about if they would return as an intern next summer, or even where they would like to begin their career if they are seniors. One tactic many organizations will take is conducting exit interviews with each intern to discuss career paths, lessons learned and any feedback on the program to drive planning in the following years. That feedback can prove to be extremely valuable to keeping the program fresh and evolving.
When interns are left with a positive impression of working for your company, it is much easier to recruit them for a full-time position or lean on them as a great reference to future candidates. Individuals that had a great experience with a company are more than twice as likely to recommend the organization to others. Stay connected with interns throughout the school year with a strong candidate relationship management (CRM) tool to automatically share personalized corporate updates and communicate available job openings to maintain interest among prospective students. Staying top of mind will show your organization is interested and competitive.
To continue the conversation about maintaining engagement with interns following the summer, take a look at The Summer Send-Off: How to Offboard Your Interns and Stay in Touch.
Jess Woloszyn started her career at iCIMS, turning her passion for industry trends and technology developments from an internship into a full-time career. A Content Writer by day, she moonlights developing health food recipes – but has a serious dark side for some good old-fashioned baking.