Just six to eight months from now, interns, residents, summer analysts, and co-ops will be arriving on your doorstep – will you be ready?
HR leaders and talent acquisition professionals begin recruiting eight months before internships begin and six months before co-ops begin―basically, now. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reports that companies plan to hire 3.4 percent more interns in 2017 and 6.3 percent more co-ops. For the first time since 2013, hiring projections are positive for interns, co-ops, full-time and entry-level hires1.
Hiring is One Thing – Successfully Managing an Internship Program is Another
Students talk – meaning they network, share socially, and spread the word about their internship experience. Researchers at NACE found that one of the biggest complaints heard from interns is that companies aren’t ready for their arrival.
“The interns show up and the company forgot about their arrival or was scrambling to get things ready. Interns know when companies are prepared.”
Six to eight months of planning, career fairs and on-campus recruiting will land 1.5 – 2 million interns and co-ops in short-term summer roles lasting 10 to 12 weeks. While HR teams still prefer high-touch engagement with potential new interns, most of the interns arriving on Day 1 will find that employers aren’t prepared. The high-touch introduction to your company meets a first day at the office that lacks structure. Figuring out assignments on the fly or losing top-ranked candidates due to a failure to engage socially or culturally is a hallmark of poor internship program management.
4 Ways to Ensure Interns Hit the Ground Running
- Take Control of Internship Program Management―Now. Don’t wait until new interns reach your doorstep to get your team and projects organized. Identify your management team, define projects and goals, and put an internship management solution in place that will ensure your entire team is ready to engage on Day 1. Internship solutions like vi’s Internship Program Management Software help employers gain critical visibility into their complete internship and co-op program. Once a technology solution is in place, your internship program can be honed and refined over time.
- Provide and Promote Feedback on Projects
Feedback is a two-way street (and people thrive on it). The most successful internship management programs help you easily assign work (even letting interns choose projects that interest them), then deliver timely guidance designed to help interns improve performance. Get ready to share responsibility and the feedback mic. Real-time performance helps managers, teammates and mentors collaborate with interns on projects and helps interns share their feedback with you as well. It’s important to keep the communication flowing.
- Empower Company Leaders to Mentor Interns
Get a broader team engaged in your successful internship management program. Assign a mentor to each intern to help develop important career skills. Equip leaders with the tools and training they need to guide interns and co-ops effectively. Your interns will better connect to your culture (and in a shorter timeframe), and you’ll reap the benefits when top performers get hired down the road. You’ll also cultivate an engaged intern community that will share their success with others. That’s thinking win-win!
- Use Tech to Level-Up Your Internship Program Management. HR leaders are turning to technology to take their internship management and early careers programs to the next level. Teams are embracing technology advances that put the power to manage complex, multi-location programs with hundreds of interns at their fingertips. Talent is scarce and competition to engage and retain key intern candidates is turning up the heat to take internship management to the next level. Companies need the tools to effectively design and manage internship programs and then measure results and refine programs over time. Employers and interns want real-time information at their fingertips―a dashboard view into project assignments, performance and engagement satisfaction. This type of direct engagement is captured most effectively with technology.
Make your company their passion! A successfully-run internship management program not only helps you capitalize on your successful intern and co-op recruiting efforts, but it helps you identify and cultivate your future hires and involve your broader team; an investment that pays off for your company over and over. With internship conversion rates at a 13-year high (a whopping 61.9 percent!) nurturing your future corporate leaders has never been more important.
If you’d like more information about internship program management solutions, we’d love to help you. We can walk you through a demo, share customer success stories and case studies, and give you the resources you need to choose the right internship program solution. We’re ready to help, just visit our vi Internship Management page for more information.
1 National Association of Colleges and Employers, May 17, 2017, Internship and Co-Op Hiring Make Gains in 2017. Last referenced October 2017: https://www.naceweb.org/job-market/internships/internship-and-co-op-hiring-make-gains-in-2017
2 National Association of Colleges and Employers, August 7, 2017, Prepare Now for Your Summer Interns. Last referenced October 2017; http://community.naceweb.org/blogs/mark-broadfoot/2017/08/07/prepare-now-for-your-summer-interns