We often ask ourselves what qualities we want in an ideal intern: reliable, charismatic, disciplined, self-motivated and the list goes on and on. However, if we want to change the conversation towards not just seeking out top talent, but attracting it to enhance business growth, it’s time to point the lens inward to see what your company provides that interns are on the hunt for in their internships.
Let’s open up with a virtual no-brainer. Most interns seeking internships are looking for an entry-point to either their first career or their first career in a new industry. While not all programs enable an immediate foray into full-time employment, your company can optimize an internship program by utilizing it as a vetting tool for how successful an individual might be if offered future employment. Compensation
The truth of the matter is that while there is no price tag associated with the value and experience you can provide an intern, not all interns can invest time in a company without compensation, especially if the assignments and work duties involve some sort of travel. Regardless of how devoted, intelligent, disciplined and interested an intern might be, if they cannot sustain a good quality of life while being part of your intern program, they won’t be part of your company.
“Compensation is something I do try to find but other factors that can make up for it would be: diverse opportunities to use my skill sets across teams, opportunities to really get insight as to how things work in the [industry], and chances to expand on those discoveries.” – PS Intern, Rachel Wilson.
This all being said, while attaching a dollar amount to an internship ad might be an excellent method in acquiring applicants, it might not be the best course when attracting the right people for your program. Rachel’s statement only furthers the point that incorporating a fair wage into your program is not a make-or-break when discovering the best intern for your company.
Pro tip: Take time to assess your company’s budgetary constraints when developing your intern program. This could be a defining quality when finding the best interns for your business.
Rubbing elbows with staff
Feeling left behind or forgotten is a common frustration with interns. Will someone finally see you sitting idly by and help you to determine what tasks should be tackled next? Will someone update you on the status of projects and timelines and help you fill in any gaps?
“When looking for an internship, I do some research on the best agencies or companies to work for in a particular city. If they have great employees and are willing to mentor their interns, I would consider applying. An internship is an opportunity to learn more about an industry and see if it’s the right career path for you.” – PS Intern, Erika Chevez
Interns not only look to staff to help navigate their time at your company but to also help guide them in the industry. The best internship programs always have someone available to answer questions on projects and to direct them towards the next viable steps in a process. Interns who have formed relationships in a company are more apt to follow-through with tasks and projects and complete them with a feeling of pride, further advancing the success of your company’s intern program.
Interns rarely seek out internships as a way to simply pass time. If your company finds itself seeking out individuals as inexpensive labor, or a means of filling in for employees that have left on vacation, you might be in for a rude awakening.
“I look for companies within that category that are reputable and have a good internal structure. I want to make sure whoever I’m interning with is going to give me a good opportunity to gain the experience that I’m looking for.” – PS Intern, Rachel Wilson
Investing in your interns means taking time to assess the content being assigned to them and how it correlates with their particular skill sets. A company that values its interns will produce projects and assignments that embed details, deliverables, and KPIs, much like in any other team within your company.
When an intern feels the value associated with being part of a team and being addressed as such through challenging assignments, meeting invitations, and project briefings, they are more apt to be a long-term advocate for your company. Including an intern whenever possible and appropriate exposes them to more real-world situations in which they can observe industry behavior and interactions. An intern who feels accepted and involved with their colleagues are more prone to speak highly of your company and even accept an offer for employment if your business chooses to extend it their way.
Understanding what’s important for interns means first and foremost, leaving egos at the door. By viewing the acquisition of interns through the lens of investing in acquiring top talent, you are guaranteed to benefit your company both immediately as well as in the long run.
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