BY JOHN MADIGAN, CAREER PARTNERS INTERNATIONAL – HARTFORD
There is a plethora of raw talent that many companies may not be utilizing. In a job market that is brimming with qualified, experienced workers, recent college grads with limited experience are finding job opportunities scarce in their chosen field of study. Has your organization considered bringing on an intern from this body of potential workers?
Internships, if set up correctly, help soon-to-be graduates gain valuable experience as well as bring their own unique perspective to the workplace. For small businesses, interns may provide short-term assistance for critical projects, the ability to help support an influx of business, or just provide an extra pair of helping hands.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ (NACE) 2014 Experiential Education Survey:
- 96.9% of responding employers planned to hire interns and/or co-op students in 2014.
- Employers made full-time offers to 64.8 percent of their interns.
- 79% of interns accepted a full-time job offer with their internship employer.
- After one year, employers retained about three-quarters of their new college hires who have internship experience.
There is nothing more rewarding from a coaching perspective than helping soon-to-be college graduates gain real-world experience and apply classroom learning in their chosen career field. Interns are inquisitive, technologically savvy, and have a genuine desire to learn from more experienced professionals.
Setting up an effective internship program is critical to giving students the type of experience they need to help propel them to the top of a recruiter’s candidate list.
Here are some definite Dos and Don’ts for internships:
- Do make sure the intern is going to gain something useful from their time with your organization. Attending training workshops, researching a new product, and interacting with your clients are just a few of the things that can be meaningful to someone who is considering going into your line of work.
- Do create a general outline/job description of what the intern’s responsibilities will entail and have regular interactions with interns separate from showing them the work you are asking them to do.
- Don’t give your intern menial tasks to do if that is something you would not ask your regular, full-time staff to do. This is one of the biggest complaints interns have!
- Do teach and demonstrate professionalism at all times. Interns will look to you and other people in your office to see how you interact with co-workers, vendors, clients, and customers. Internships are as much about learning real job skills as they are about learning professional etiquette.
- Do ask your interns to pay it forward! Encourage your former interns who have landed that great, new job to be a resource and networking contact for future interns at your company.
- Do hire interns who want the work experience and college credit. The classroom and business experience should complement each other and help the intern understand practical applications for what they have learned in the classroom.
- Do help your interns build a professional network in their chosen field as part of their internship experience. Many interns leave college with a great education but a real lack of understanding of how beneficial networking is for their career. Introduce them to people that can be mentors and role models as well as provide insights into the companies they work for.
John Madigan started Career Partners International – West Hartford in 2007 after extensive experience in corporate HR, including The Hartford Financial Services Group and at Aetna Life and Casualty. Prior to joining The Hartford, Madigan spent three years in the executive outplacement business at Drake Beam Morin. Madigan holds a B.A. in psychology, and a Master’s Degree in counseling from the University of Connecticut, where he also completed coursework toward a Ph.D. in adult learning.