With summer internship season and National Intern Day on the way, and changes to how internship programs will look at most organizations, we’re here to help answer your questions about internship programs. On WayUp’s April webinar, Making The Most Of Your Internship Program and Getting Ready For National Intern Day, campus recruiting leaders from GE and Lumen, both past National Intern Day participants, discussed what made their programs worth celebrating!
During the hour-long session, there were so many good audience questions we decided to write a blog for those we couldn’t answer live! Whether your team is starting or continuing your internship program this year or hopes to get a leg up for the National Intern Day Top 100 Internship Programs List nomination, this is for you!
Candidates first want to know the impact the internship will have on the organization or community. Candidates are also attracted to programs with tangible benefits to their careers’. If your company is unable to offer full-time roles to interns, find other ways to contribute to their resumes. Interns who participate in important business functions like building marketing campaigns or web development can take this experience to employers who require prior experience.
Finally, if there is no space available to hire a great intern for a full-time role, help them find an opportunity somewhere else. If your interns leave your program with a personal recommendation or referral to another job, they will become advocates for your company’s program to their peers.
The WayUp employer blog provides tons of great information on this topic. Retaining candidate attention in a hybrid world can be difficult, so start by developing strategies to cut through the clutter of messages candidates receive and get responses! Early-talent recruiters also need to learn to recruit like a marketer. Refining your employer brand, nurturing talent, measuring results, and recruiting year-round is key to reaching your target candidates.
Additionally, in a hybrid recruiting environment, early-talent recruitment teams need an effective hybrid recruiting strategy. Now that on-campus events are a smaller portion of the recruiting funnel, organizations have the opportunity to become school agnostic. Using sourcing tools like WayUp helps you to connect with diverse candidates across the U.S. no matter what school they attend. Finally, effectively engaging with students at HBCUs and MSIs will help if incorporated into a holistic DEI recruitment strategy.
Unfortunately, there is no one correct answer to this question. Companies like GE and Lumen are still learning what works best for them, and every organization’s program will look different. Teams need to consider how to get interns to love your brand, the company, and the work they are doing. The switch to virtual allowed Lumen to provide a more consistent internship experience across the company. They can recruit diverse candidates who do not have to relocate and can engage all of their interns in virtual events together, instead of being separated by office groups. This also means interns can network with a much larger peer group than when in the office!
But how do intern managers make these shared virtual events meaningful? Our panelists suggest making the experience as personal and relevant to the interns as possible. This means you will have to get to know your interns to know what they want! A first step in making your virtual internships more impactful is to ask past interns, especially those who worked virtually in the past two years, how they would describe their experience with your program to a friend or peer. What was it about your program that brought them back to work full-time for your company? What could be changed?
How internship programs are regarded by leadership in your organization matters. Many companies see interns as a way to cover a high volume of summer projects. Instead, or in addition, internship programs should be seen as developmental pipelines to your entry-level roles. Lumen purposely keeps their internship program small (120-150 interns) compared to their company size, so most high-performing interns who want a full-time role after the program have the opportunity. Campus recruiting teams will often receive more requests for interns than there are entry-level roles to offer then after the program. Our panelists suggest having conversations with leadership to better outline the goals of the program and strike a balance between having enough interns and enough opportunities for them afterward. GE hires 2-3 interns for each entry-level role available, as there will always be candidates who are not a good fit or find other opportunities.
Many companies who moved their interview process to completely virtual as a product of the pandemic have decided to keep this process. It allows for more flexibility and in many cases faster interview timelines because you can interview across the country without having to coordinate travel for the candidate. Some companies have kept the process virtual until super days, and only at that point are they looking to meet candidates in person. No one strategy will be a fit for every organization.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), “by paying their interns, employers can ensure that their intern pool is not made up just of students who can afford to forgo a paycheck for the summer, which helps them create a more inclusive program.” The typical pay scale takes into account location, year or program of education, and the major type. Besides those factors, NACE suggests keeping intern pay consistent across the company and reevaluating the pay scale every year.
When it comes to benefits, according to the NACE 2021 Student Survey, the most important benefits a company can offer other than a salary are 401K and tuition reimbursement programs. Students also want roles that provide insurance like medical, life, and dental. Finally, as a result of the pandemic, 55.5% of respondents in the survey said the option to telecommute (work remotely) was either very or extremely important to them in an internship opportunity.
For more information on the typical pay scale, check out NACE for more resources.
The National Intern Day FAQs provide resources for celebrating your interns virtually or in different offices across the country. Use strategies learned in 2020 to help teams keep connected. Schedule virtual activities ranging from group lunches to team-building activities! Celebrate National Intern Day by collaborating with intern managers to develop intern appreciation programs. Write thank-you notes, send digital gift cards, create an internal awards program, highlight interns on social media, and much more!
To be eligible for the National Intern Day Top 100 Program list, you must hire at least one intern or co-op in the U.S. in 2022. If your interns are international, you can still celebrate with us by honoring their hard work on July 28th!
We suggest combining all entities that hold internships under one nomination for your organization for two reasons. First, the Top 100 Internship Program list is partially determined by public voting. By combining your programs under one entity, you do not have to worry about splitting up your voters! Second, by combining your nominations, you can showcase to the judges the different educational paths your company offers. This way you can show how your organization advances the careers of students in multiple disciplines.