Your next young gun could be the kid licking envelopes in the corner. The only trouble is, she’s licking envelopes in the corner.
If your internship program is run primarily as a source of cheap (read free) labour you may be saving yourself a few bucks in wages, but at the same time you might be overlooking a great opportunity: interns can turn into an incredible resource when properly cultivated.
According to US-based HR trainer Karla Palmer, how interns are treated during an internship can be the difference between quickly and easily taking on a quality graduate after they’ve finished their studies, and having to sink unnecessary money into grad recruitment. “Why not make the most out of your company’s internship program and use it as an opportunity to find your next star?” she asked.
Reach out early
With good reason, professional sports teams often begin scouting high school students. They want to secure the next Kieran Perkins or Cathy Freeman before the competition. It should be the same for HR, but it often isn’t. Even if they don’t intend to hire them right away, sports teams make themselves aware of future potential.
If a qualified high school or university student has an interest in the type of business you run, why not have him or her come in once or twice a week and learn about what goes on in the company? Reaching out early will give you the opportunity to really develop your interns. By the time they graduate, you will know how to best utilise them as an employee.
It’s widely accepted that a company is only as successful as the employees who work for it. Building relationships with your interns will help make them feel vested in the company. Make an effort to speak with interns and listen to what they have to say. Ask for their ideas on the work that’s being done. Assign them real tasks so you can see what they are capable of. Give interns a chance to work on projects that excite them, such as social media implementation. The more that you put into your interns, the better suited they will be for employment.
When the internship ends, interns will remember how they were treated and they will tell their friends. If an intern has a bad experience and tweets it, or posts it on Facebook, it’s certainly negative PR for your organisation. Moreover, many universities ask their students to provide feedback after an internship. Negative internship programs can make a company look unprofessional. The best graduates want to work for the best companies, so a bad reputation can seriously hurt a company’s recruiting efforts.
Build a solid internship program
An internship program that seeks to teach interns vital career-related skills will be far more successful and enriching for everyone involved. Consider the internship as a training period. Treat and train the intern like you would a new hire. Give them the tools they need to become an asset to your company.
Try introducing interns to different facets of the business. This will allow them see what works best for them while maximising their hiring potential. Not only does this help enrich the intern’s experience, but it also allows you to see how versatile the intern’s skill set is. The intern should leave the experience with new abilities and a larger network. The employer should end up with a strong potential candidate that is well-versed on the company. Having someone do your pesky admin tasks is nice, but cultivating your new star is even nicer.