The Value of Internship Programs
Universum asked 65,679 undergraduates in the US to choose the top three things they would most like to get from an internship. As Forbes reported, more than half (51%) of the undergrads surveyed said that they would foremost like an opportunity for full-time employment. Thereafter, undergraduates want job orientation and training (42%), a good employer reference (29%), challenging assignments (20%) and flexible working conditions (19%).
Vicki Lynn, senior vice president of client talent strategy and employer branding at Universum, pointed out to Forbes that it’s totally normal for students to be asking for an eventual job opportunity, taking into consideration the current economic climate in the US. Lynn emphasized to the reporter, however, how valuable insights are on what students want from an internship, especially for organizations that are investing in internship programs as an important channel for sourcing future employees.
Lynn addressed the important factors that employers need to consider when defining their internship programs.
The benefits of internships for employers
- A three-month internship is a perfect period for both the candidate and employer to assess compatibility.
- Studies show that retention rates are higher for employees that have previously interned at an organization versus those that haven’t.
- Internship programs are valuable as they allow organizations to fulfill their long-term talent acquisition and retention needs.
- Organizations should set goals and measure the conversion rates of interns to full-time hires as well as retention rates.
What employers should consider for their internship offers
- Make the internship a fulfilling and enriching experience. If employers misuse interns, by getting them to do trivial tasks which a typical employee avoids, the intern will most likely inform his or her peers about their disappointing experience. As a result, the organization may have problems recruiting interns for future openings at specific colleges.
- Provide work/life flexibility. Organizations should allow their interns to determine their own work schedules and give them the possibility to work remotely.
- Assign a mentor to the intern, as it has shown to increase candidate inclusion and later on retention.
In conclusion, undergraduates seek meaningful internships that lead to full-time employment offers; they want to be challenged, receive guidance and support in their career growth. Employers, on their side, should work with their internship programs as a key sourcing channel and measure the conversion from intern to full-time hire. There is a great deal that can be achieved for both students and organizations if the internship placement is done in the right way from the start.
Smith, Jacquelyn (2014). Internship Wish List: The 12 Things Students Value Most. Forbes. [Online] Available from: www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2014/01/08/internship-wish-list-the-12-things-students-value-most/ [Accessed on 14 January 2014]