Posts tagged ‘summer internships’
Traditionally, we have advised employers to post internship openings 7-10 weeks in advance of their desired start date.
But more and more, the trend is to post early. In fact, when it comes to summer internships—typically the most competitive time of year—larger companies, like Fortune 1000 corporations, are posting the previous fall. In other words… now.
Of course, you may be thinking, But we’re a small business. And it’s true; if you are not looking to fill 50-plus slots, it’s probably not as important that you post internships as far ahead of time.
That being said, why wouldn’t you want access to the same intern talent as industry leaders? Why would you want to settle for the students left after the larger players have made their selections?
To this end, consider the following perks of posting an internship early:
- Increased selection. It seems obvious, but bears mentioning: Posting internship openings in advance gives you a greater pool to pick from. Wait until the last minute, and you’ll have to choose from the smaller number of students still available.
- Superior selection. There are two reasons you snag superior talent by recruiting interns early. First, more motivated students look for internships in advance. Post now and you up your chances of hiring higher-achieving applicants.
Secondly, it’s not just the less-driven interns who are available last minute. Procrastinating means you’re more likely to meet candidates who did start looking early, but who were not selected. This is yet another reason large companies post early: to ensure they acquire the cream of the crop.
- Fall career fairs. Fall semester is when many schools host career fairs. Posting an internship and participating in career fairs simultaneously increases your chances of attracting the specific type of intern you’re seeking.
But what about rationalizing that you’re too busy/understaffed/overworked right now to plan next summer’s internship program? To this, I urge you to ask yourself the following: Will your schedule really be less packed next spring? Probably not.
Moreover, if you’re looking to infuse your company with the fresh ideas and creative perspectives that will propel you to the next category, hiring the smartest, most sought-after interns is an excellent first step. Integrate these students into your team as interns, and increase your odds of bringing them onboard as employees later.
by the Intern Coach
A. Good question! You need to track your new interns’ activities and make sure the interns are performing their duties to company expectations—and school expectations, too, especially if they are earning academic credits. If you have more than one intern, it can be overwhelming for you to keep tabs on everyone. You may be the point of contact, but consider these ways to make your job easier:
- Discuss the company expectations with each intern on the first day. Then, you are both on the same page—literally. Provide a schedule and calendar for the entire internship period, so the intern knows the goals and the deadlines for each assignment.
- Introduce the intern(s) to each department and present the intern work calendar to the department head. Then, the department head takes over, ensuring the intern meets everyone in the department, achieves a good comfort level, and understands the duties.
- Request that the department head or the person in that department who is supervising the intern file a weekly report with you on the intern’s activities and accomplishments. Ask the intern to also file a report, stating what he/she has done that week.
- Schedule a weekly 15-minute appointment with each intern to talk about the internship. If you have multiple interns, you could hold one meeting with all the interns, facilitating an exchange of information among the group and encouraging professional relationships.
- Monitor your intern in case an internship experience is derailed and needs assistance getting back on track. Some signs of a problem might be an intern who is consistently late for work, calls in sick on a regular basis, or who spends too much time on their cell phone. In these situations, jump in early and work with the intern to improve the situation.
Traditionally, employers are aware that college students follow a certain road on their way to graduation. The path college students take from school to career can even be described as a “pipeline.” Generally, most students enter college; spend a couple of years adjusting to the campus environment; spend a summer or two working or traveling; and finally graduate and enter the workforce. In most cases, the journey through this pipeline takes somewhere between four to six years. When I think back to my college educational experience, as well as the experiences of the Hispanic college students I’ve talked to over the last fifteen years, the educational pipeline is much different. For me and other Hispanic college students, using the pipeline metaphor might not capture our experiences as accurately as it should. Let me explain by using my journey as an example.
To start, I worked full-time almost five years before setting foot on a college campus. Part of the reason for working full-time was to contribute to the family household, buy a car, and save money in order to go to college. Once enrolled as a full-time college student, I either worked on-campus as a student employee or off-campus to earn extra money to pay for college expenses that my financial aid didn’t cover. And while I did take advantage of school breaks, most of my summers were spent going to school and working in order to graduate within four years (I actually did it in 3 ½). My experience as an undergraduate was not any different than many Hispanic college students today. And while I was fortunate to not have to interrupt my education, many Hispanic college students must do this in order to address many of the same financial factors I described earlier.
So rather than illustrating the Hispanic college student experience as a pipeline, I think it resembles a pattern of on-ramps and off-ramps; school, work and back to school. It’s an important difference for employers to understand, especially if it doesn’t fit the usual college pipeline characteristics. For example, a non-traditional student pattern can extend time-to-graduation timelines or limit involvement in campus activities. On the other hand, what this unique experience does provide you as an employer are highly responsible, committed, and driven interns. It takes a lot of determination and focus to get through this process. The confidence, maturity, and other work skills Hispanic college students obtain resulting from this non-traditional experience should be leveraged and utilized to benefit your organization.
There is no question that summer is the most popular period for internships. Students are able to take advantage of a three month break from school to apply their classroom knowledge in practical settings. Additionally, over that same period, employers are able to leverage a reliable source of skilled employees to accomplish short-term projects as well as shore up teams that might be understaffed due to summer vacation schedules. By and large, participating in a summer internship program is highly beneficial to students and employers. So why should employers only take advantage of these benefits in the summer? There is no reason why employers can’t continue building their professional employee pipeline other than in the summer months. Consider the following arrangements to implement an internship program on a year round basis.
Break the Mold
When I managed the internship and cooperative education programs for the University of Texas at El Paso Career Center, there were often many reasons (e.g. financial, personal, career, etc.) students chose to extend their summer internships. While some colleges might not officially sponsor such arrangements, students might opt to continue working into the fall to meet certain personal obligations or needs. Furthermore, based on these same needs, many students might consider internship opportunities that make use of spring/summer combinations rather than the traditional summer schedule. In a nutshell, consider internships that might not fit the traditional internship “mold” – chances are good there are many students out there who will jump at the opportunity.
Flexibility in Quarter Systems
Both semester and quarter systems furnish college students approximately three months each summer for employment opportunities. However, quarter systems might offer employers additional choices when trying to implement an internship programs on a year round basis. Students attending colleges on quarter systems can provide more flexibility, particularly if projects well-suited for interns present themselves through out the year and not just the summer months. Quarter systems allow students to complete an internship in the middle of the year and still remain on track for graduation. Employers can even consider recruiting at schools using each system in order to meet their year round needs.
Depending on the college, some internship programs allow students to work 10-20 hours per week during the academic year. These types of internship arrangements allow students to work and potentially earn college credit provided that a student’s work experience is directly related to their area of study. These scenarios are a great option for local employers or organizations that offer virtual opportunities. For employers, it provides yet another opportunity to maintain an internship program year round.
Early in my career, I managed the internship and cooperative education program for the University of Texas at El Paso career center, a campus where over 70% of the student population is Hispanic. As students returned to campus from their work experiences, I spent a lot of time with each of them discussing what he or she had learned from applying their academic knowledge in a practical setting. I’d often ask about their respective projects, supervisors, co-workers, and the cities where they lived. When I asked students about their organization’s culture, a common response went something like “… the people I worked with were like part of a big family.” And while I was delighted to know that student experiences emphasized practical work experience in their area of study, I was just as pleased to see that some employers recognized the importance of “family” to our students. Whether these companies recognized it or not, they had enhanced these students’ internship experiences by tapping an important element of Hispanic culture – familism.
Familism can be described as a cultural characteristic where interests, choices, and activities are formed within the context of a larger network. In most cases, especially in Hispanic culture, this means a family network. If you ask any Hispanic American what is most valued in his or her life, family is usually the first or second choice. Familism is often illustrated as a “belief system” that incorporates loyalty, cooperation, and cohesion towards members of a family or network. Other elements of familism might include duty, support, understanding, and respect. Familism also values principles such as interdependence, camaraderie, and community. One can easily see how these attributes can lend themselves to a work setting.
In organizational environments, particularly internship opportunities, supervisors and interns assume particular roles, which are naturally found in traditional family settings. Hence, in the case of Hispanics, it would make sense to highlight this type of relationship by providing guidance and direction to student interns; mirroring the strong relationships they value in their own family networks. Assure interns are incorporated into all aspects of the department or team to which they’ve been assigned. Give them time to network and get to know everyone with whom they’ll interact. By and large, employers can benefit greatly by extending these family tie concepts into their Hispanic interns’ work environments. Aside from the positive emotional effects, employers will most likely see marked increase in their interns’ performance.