Archive for October, 2010
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.
If interns are to function as effectively as possible, they must feel some sense of allegiance to the company. Because if they don’t feel accepted, they simply won’t want to do their best.
Furthermore, in order to learn, interns must feel comfortable asking questions and seeking clarification. In order to feel at ease, they must believe they have allies in the rest of the team… or at least the loyalty of certain members.
So how can you help interns fit in? Put these tips into practice:
- Set up get-to-know-you strategies. You should start by introducing interns to the rest of the team, preferably on an individual basis. Then, follow this up with an activity, like a team lunch, to welcome interns.
Or, you might schedule a group get-acquainted session: Here, the interns can ask employees for information on the company and culture; and interns can share the student perspective on current situations. This helps bridge the gap between interns and older employees by both allowing interns to receive information and feel valued for their own input.
- Tell team members to make the first move. Encourage employees to make interns feel welcome by smiling and saying hello, offering to answer questions, asking about interns’ education and aspirations, and even inviting students to lunch. Explain how simple gestures like these mean a lot to new interns looking to fit in.
- Assign non-supervisor mentors. Interns need an ally they can confide in without worrying about being evaluated. So even though they have supervisors, each should also be assigned a mentor—preferably one that’s somewhat close in age. This assures students there’s at least one person on their side, initiating them into the group.
- Eliminate a competitive environment. Sometimes, particularly in start-up internship programs, entry-level employees fear that interns are being brought in to take their jobs. As a result, they are reluctant to help interns succeed or fit in socially.
The solution is to make it clear to employees ahead of time that interns are being hired to help them do their jobs more efficiently, not to turn paid positions into unpaid internship roles.
- Consider a second (or third) intern. As evidenced by the pledge-class structure of sororities and fraternities, people transition more smoothly into a group when they have someone entering alongside them. This ensuing camaraderie is especially helpful if your team is intimidating: if they’ve been together for a long time or are extremely tight-knit.
- Assign more than menial tasks. Students will likely feel isolated if they are working on only clerical tasks and coffee runs while everyone else is contributing to common, more critical projects.
This doesn’t, however, mean you must give interns only glamour jobs, or totally avoid assigning more menial tasks. Just be sure you balance the mindless work with more educational-based missions. Not only will interns learn more; they’ll have shared projects to talk about with the rest of the team.