Winning the internship wars: key components of a successful internship program

Topics: college recruiting, internships

Posted by Lisa B. Radloff on May 30, 2019 2:37:37 PM

Internwar_Blog_Header

The competition for interns is fierce, and today’s college graduates are a new breed. As Millennials (the youngest being 25) and Gen Z (the oldest being 23) make their way into the workforce, they present unique advantages for employers. Technically savvy and achievement oriented, this highly functioning demographic grew up in the age of transparency—and they expect the same honesty and candor from their employers.

So, how do you reach interns? How do you establish an application process that works for them?
Here are a few tips that have proven successful for our clients:

  1. Set up an Events page on your career site to promote college visits.
  2. Staff your events with recruiters who can answer the questions potential interns may have (pay rate, schedule, current openings, application requirements, etc.).
  3. Initiate a social media drip campaign to continuously communicate both your employer brand and available internships. Popular examples include Facebook sponsored posts and Google pay-per-click campaigns. You may also wish to create a specific landing page for intern response and include tracking code to gauge traffic.
  4. Launch an opt-in text campaign to RSVP for intern recruitment events. This is also an effective way to gauge interest and, in turn, staff your hiring event accordingly. 
  5. Not sure where to begin? It all starts with defining your goals and creating the appropriate media strategy.

45.6%: Average conversion rate from intern to full-time hire
2018 Internship & Co-op Survey Report

Once you have college grads interested in your internships, what are key factors to consider in attracting the newest members of the workforce to your organization?

Culture Fit
When recruiting and screening potential interns, give equal weight to both your organizational needs and your company culture. Although general candidate stats (academic achievement balanced with civic involvement or outside activities, previous internship experience, future career goals, etc.) are obvious criteria in the qualification process, “soft skills” that align with your company values (teamwork, leadership ability, honesty, integrity and respect) are equally valuable traits.

July 26th is National Intern Day

Money Matters
Although Gen Y and Z are commonly described as more mission- and values-oriented than previous generations (work must have “meaning”), money still matters. They’re balancing skyrocketing tuition and increasing housing costs with current academic requirements and future job prospects; time is money and most can’t afford the luxury of working for free. If your organization can only offer college credit, make that immediately clear to candidates. Do some research to determine what your competition pays for internships and set your rate accordingly.

$18.73: Average hourly wage for an intern in 2018
2018 Guide to Compensation for Interns & Co-ops

Meaningful Work
As you focus on your intern’s academic background and intellectual strengths, you should create assignments that provide real-world experience and value, not just busy work. Assign a mentor who can guide the intern through projects and assignments and create an experience that is reflective of their career path. Don’t make your intern feel like they’re at the kids’ table. Treat them like full-time employees and integrate them into the daily workflow process. They’re here to work hard and learn, and your internship program must reflect their expectations.

Consider the Source
Internship programs can positively impact your bottom line while helping to fill full-time-hire candidate pipelines. Instead of blind hiring for new positions, consider hiring your intern. As culture fit, company knowledge and understanding of their role are already established, hiring interns will reduce recruiter responsibilities and expedite the onboarding process.

Word of mouth, particularly with new grads, is more powerful than ever via social media.
What will your interns say about your organization?

Need some new ideas to promote your internships? Contact NAS today.

Lisa B. Radloff

Since joining NAS in 1998, Lisa has used her strong conceptual skills, sharp ear for dialogue and keen understanding of candidate behavior to produce concepts and copy for print, radio, television and online media for a vast range of clients across many industries.