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The Top 3 Reasons to Hire Interns: Why Internship Experience is Just as Valuable to Employers
Thursday, Jun 02, 2016

As you comb through what seems like a never-ending pile of applications for one open job, it hits you: these all look the same! But, how can that be? How can the 30 applicants all be similar? You know that they aren’t the same people, yet, on paper, the candidates seem identical.

More often than not, entry-level positions will attract similar applicants. These applicants are typically hard-working, recent graduates who devoted all of their time to “hitting the books.” Consequently, they will all have top grades and stellar academic references. But, of course, they all have a critical gap in their resume:  Experience.

Most people have heard the metaphorical phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover” however, this is exactly what the hiring process asks recruiters to do when reviewing paper submissions, pre-screening responses, and other “surface-level” skills in order to determine if applicants will be able to accomplish job tasks and fit within the company culture. Subsequently, recruiting is an extremely challenging assignment. This task becomes exponentially more difficult when each applicant looks like a copy of the previous ones. Luckily, the solution for hiring for entry-level positions is simple: hire interns first.

The top three reasons employers should consider hiring interns to build talent pools include:

1. Identify a Good Fit: In many ways, the primary reason for hiring an intern is to train a new, full-time employee. In an article titled “5 Ways Internship Experience is More Important Than a Degree,” Heater Huhman, a career consultant, says, “Research shows 43 percent of the grades given in college are A’s. In fact, GPAs at private colleges and universities have skyrocketed from 2.3 to 3.3 over the last few decades”.  Students understand the importance of earning high grades and cram their noggins full with industry knowledge in their field of choice. Unfortunately, many schools are only pushing for high GPAs and are not pushing their scholars towards internship experiences. This has translated into an emerging workforce of bright, young talent that lacks real-life experiences. On the other hand, “College students who do internships are at a huge advantage. Not only are they learning how to apply their classroom knowledge in the workplace, but they’re also learning how to function as a professional.” Not only does an applicant with internship experience have the grades and references like the other 30 applicants, but they also have that one key differentiating factor: experience.

2. Reduce Turnover: By hiring an intern, employers are able to train a prospective full-time employee and ensure the person is capable of fulfilling the job requirements and fits into the company culture before committing to a full-fledged offer. This is paramount to business success in relation to turnover rates. According to Compensation Force, the average turnover rate in 2015 across all industries was 16.7%, with 11.6% being voluntary. Why is this number so high? Most likely, entry-level applicants do not know what to expect in their new roles because formal education often does not correlate to everyday job training experiences. Entry-level personnel may know what a business report is and how to draft one in an academic setting, but when in an office without an instructor guiding them through it, they may not know what to do. In addition, an entry-level applicant may have thought they knew what the job entailed, or thought that they’d like that role, then they do it for a few months and surprise: they do not like it. To reduce these possible negative outcomes and to reduce the possibility of turnover, hire an intern and let the person “feel out” the position. As a result, the intern gets experience and insights into the field, and you get to see how the person works “on their feet.” It’s a win-win.

3. Delegate Tasks: Interns are there to learn and possibly grow within the company, but they are also there to help with job tasks. Take advantage of hiring an intern by delegating relevant tasks to that person. To make the most of the experience, make sure to assign tasks the intern can own from start to finish, and provide adequate feedback and support along the way. Remember, this person can become a full-time employee, so make sure they get the right “vibe” from the office culture and job role. In fact, according to iCIMS’ eBook, The Class of 2016 Report, 91% of senior college students admitted that they would take a temporary full-time position or internship if there was room for growth.

To start, make a list of projects that you feel comfortable letting another person own, set strict deadlines and meetings to discuss progress, and take pride in the fact that you are essentially helping to mentor a person new to the field.

For more information on hiring the latest college graduates please see our eBook, The Class of 2016 Report.