More employers are beginning to implement and offer internship programs, and for good reason. The NACE 2015 Internship & Co-op Survey found that more than 50 percent of interns become full-time employees at the companies they intern for. In other words, a successful internship program can be an effective tactic to include in your recruiting strategy.
Successful internship programs can expand your candidate reach and help you compete for top talent—ultimately improving your recruitment results and strengthening your team. So if your company doesn’t have an internship program yet, or your current one isn’t successfully converting interns, there’s opportunity for improvement.
But how do you ensure that your internship program is successful? If you want to hire great interns who eventually become full-time employees, follow these steps:
First, start by hiring interns who will be looking for full-time jobs shortly after the internship ends. US News reports that summer is the most popular time for internships, so begin your recruiting efforts in March to attract the early planners and go-getters before your competitors do. Mainly focus on recruiting college juniors or seniors, as they will be more eager and prepared to accept a full-time offer once the internship ends.
When you give your interns the resources and knowledge they need to be successful, both your company and your interns win. Along with better preparing them for your full-time positions, fully supporting your interns will improve their overall experience and increase their desire to become full-time. Create clear goals and objectives for the internship, share process documents that interns can follow and reference, demonstrate how to use your company’s software or tools, and facilitate regular meetings with their supervisors. Also encourage the interns to ask questions, and let them know who they can go to for help if their supervisor isn’t available.
One of the most critical components of any successful internship program is feedback. Without this constructive dialogue, your interns can’t learn how to improve or prepare themselves for a full-time position. So every other week, ensure that each intern’s supervisor privately meets with them to discuss what is going well and what can be improved. The supervisor should acknowledge the intern’s accomplishments, offer specific advice on what they can do better, and ask them if they have any questions or concerns. You can create progress reports to help lead the discussions and to ensure that important topics are addressed.
During the last weeks of the internship, interns start contemplating what their next career move will be. If you want them to decide to stay with your company, finish your internship as strong as you started it. Consider offering an end-of-internship project that acts as a capstone for the internship so it ends with an exciting challenge. You can also ask your intern to give a final presentation that recaps their key accomplishments and takeaways. Finally, ask interns to give direct and anonymous feedback to you about their internship experience. Conducting and reviewing exit surveys can help you continuously learn how to improve your internship program.
With the job market tightening this year, posting your job positions online and waiting for candidates to apply is no longer enough. If you want to attract more and better job seekers, plan ahead and implement proactive recruitment strategies, especially for key and hard-to-fill positions. Fortunately, internship programs are a great way to expand your candidate reach and attract top talent.