Four Steps to a World-Class Internship Program
Signature advice from companies who are getting it right
World-Class Internship Program
Want to ensure your business is getting the MOST from your internship program? OR are you trying to get a program off the ground but not sure where to start? You've come to the right place. In this jam-packed, 1-hour webinar Emily Bennington, coauthor of Effective Immediately: How to Fit In, Stand Out, and Move Up at Your First Real Job, will dive in to the specifics of what makes internships successful and what you must do to produce a bottom-line return for your organization.
You'll learn best practices from the biggest names in business, including measurable ways to:
- Structure your program
- Find your future rock stars
- Onboard effectively
- Keep interns engaged
- Evaluate your success
If you are relying on internships to recruit new grads (or plan to in the future), this webinar is a must-see!
Monster would like to thank Emily Bennington for presenting this webinar.
Effective Immediately: How to Fit In, Stand Out, and Move Up at Your First Real Job (Ten Speed Press, 2010)
Emily Bennington is coauthor of Effective Immediately: How to Fit In, Stand Out, and Move Up at Your First Real Job (Ten Speed Press, 2010). She is a frequent speaker to students and organizations on the topic of career success and the host of Professional Studio 365, a popular blog for new grads transitioning from classroom to boardroom. Emily has been featured on ABC News and has been quoted in publications including the Wall Street Journal, New York Post, US News and World Report, Yahoo Jobs, and the Washington Post Express. She is a regular contributor to Monster.com as well as the college section of The Huffington Post. Emily can be reached via email at ebennington@)msn.com or on Twitter@EmilyBennington.
Webinar Transcript: Four Steps to a World-Class Internship
Thanks so very much and good day everyone. I'm Randi Alterman. I'm the marketing director here at Monster and I'd like to thank you for joining us today for this exclusive webinar hosted by Monster Intelligence. Today, we're going to discuss four steps to a world-class internship program.
In this Monster Intelligence webinar, we're joined by Emily Bennington, co-author of "Effective Immediately: How To Fit In, Stand Out, and Move Up At Your First Real Job." Attendees of this webinar will hear signature advice from companies that are just getting it right. Before we get started, I do have a few housekeeping items I do want to mention. The presentation and a copy of today's recording will be posted on hiring.monster.com within two to three days. Just click on the resources tab, and go to HR events. Our participants will receive an email with the direct link to today's materials.
Monster Intelligence provides insight to help HR professionals, improve their recruiting success, accelerate worker performance to obtain top talent. We analyze and collect data from over 4 million unique job searches performed on Monster each and every day. We invite you to visit hiring.monster.com and read some of other investors' reports and analyses. All of those pages are the under the Resources tab. There will be time after the presentation for some question and answers and our meeting manager will help facilitate that Q&A. Please feel free at any time during the webinar to type your questions to the available space and we'll try to include them in the Q&A. Additionally, if you're getting your audio through the phone, you will be placed on mute until the Q&A session begins.
All right. I'd like to introduce today's speaker. We're very fortunate to have Emily Bennington with us today. She's the co-author of "Effective Immediately: How to Fit In, Stand Out, and Move Up At Your First Real Job." She's a frequent speaker to students and organizations on the topic of career success, and the host of professional studio 365, which is a popular blog for the grads transitioning from classroom to the boardroom. And we have been featured on ABC News and she has been quoted in publications including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, U.S. News & World Report, and the Washington Post Express. She's a regular contributor on Monster.com as well as the college section of the Huffington Post. Emily, I'd like to turn the webinar over to you.
Great, thank you so much Randi. Hello and thank you for joining me for this Monster Webinar Four Steps to a World-Class Internship signature advice from companies that are getting it right. As Randi mentioned, I'm Emily Bennington co-author of the book "Effective Immediately: How to Fit in, Stand out, and Move Up at Your First Real Job." In my work, I help students successfully transition from classroom to the boardroom, a passion that was initially sparked because like a lot of new grads, I didn't do it so well myself. Since then, however, I have conducted a lot of research into what it takes to help entry-level hires succeed. I've also conducted a series of interviews with new grads and their employers to discover what businesses are doing right to bring in new hires and what can be approved. I'm going to go over the best of what I've learned on our call today. But first, I wanted to publicly say thank you to the folks at Monster for giving me the opportunity to share these insights with you.
To begin, let's start with the view from 30,000 feet. Why do we need interns anyway? Up until recently, I think the answer would have been to do the grunt work, of course, and maybe that worked in decades past. But these days, the fact of the matter is that we are living in a knowledge-based economy, where businesses with the best talent win. So employers, this has created a supreme need to just keep a pipeline of talent flowing and, over time, companies have wised up to the fact that internships are the very best way to discover and audition entry-level hires.
But more than that, internships create a controlled learning environment where businesses can train candidates in a way that if they are hired, new employees can come in and hit the ground running. But think of it this way: for every new hire, there's a period in which they are consuming more resources from their organization than they're contributing to it. When you first started a job that you have now, you were consuming a salary. You were consuming the time of other employees that was needed to get you up to speed. You were consuming real estate in your office, a computer, a coke in the fridge, and the list goes on. So for businesses, obviously, these things cost money, but your company was prepared to make that investment because they knew or perhaps they hoped that over time, you would begin to contribute more value to the bottom line than you were taking from it.
A few years ago, I read a book by Michael Watkins called "The First 90 Days." Dr. Watkins is a former professor at the Harvard Business School, and he conducted a study to figure out just how long it takes new leaders to effectively break even at work. And again, that is contribute as much value to the organization as they consume from it. And what he discovered was that the average is about 6.2 months. So in his consulting practice, Dr. Watkins tries to shrink that learning curve and get new managers to break even earlier at about 3.2 months. I love this concept because this is exactly what an internship program does. Not only do companies have the ability to test drive potential employees, but if and when those employees are hired, they're able to hit the ground running from day one.
So these three reasons really underscore the business case for internships:
- The need to keep a constant pipeline of new talent.
- The ability to audition new staff without too many strings attached.
- The fact that entry-level hires who are former interns will naturally break even faster, and therefore contribute more to their companies in less time.
And this is why so many organizations are relying almost exclusively on internships to recruit new grads, which means there's a growing need to develop programs that can evaluate a candidate's true potential, as well as a growing need for people who can administer them, and that's what we're going to talk about today. So let's just keep rolling.
The number one step to a world-class internship program is that you have to be a freak about structure. In fact, when it comes to implementing strategic initiatives like this, most companies can be compared to a simple garden hose. You know how when you have a garden hose, you can adjust the head to different settings? Well, businesses have different settings too. Some are focused and really get it and these are the organizations with truly outstanding and successful internship programs. Likewise, there are some businesses that kind of get it, but there's definitely some room for improvement. And then some companies just don't get it at all. They're all over the place with their program with no clear direction and no concept of the overall purpose of their internship.
The difference between these organizations is often the amount of upfront planning that they commit to because when it comes to internships, many companies, particularly small businesses, will dive head first into that hiring process without thinking much about what they're really trying to achieve. And this is a big mistake. Since the cost involved in running an internship program can be high when things like recruiting, and salaries, and non-global time are factored in. Successful internships must produce a bottom line return to your organization and you have to know what that is. So you want to outline the benchmarks at front and this is really important you want to make sure that the leadership of your organization has influence, buy-in, and consensus over what those benchmarks are. In other words, this really isn't the time to be general or to work in nice round numbers.
You want specific numbers so that you can measure your success against them at the end of the program. And these numbers include conversion rates of interns to full-time hires. Just keep in mind that you want to have more interns in your program than you'll need on staff for full-time. For one, you probably won't have a 100 percent conversion rate. Second, you want to be able to weed out people who don't fit and still have additional candidates to choose from.
So for example, if you know that you're going to need three entry-level employees, then you may want to put five or six through your internship program. With that in mind, you need to know the number of interns that you want to hire as well as the admission requirements for your program. These include the minimum GPA, the extracurricular activities that you want to see on the resume, and such so that you have a clear understanding of how you're going to screen for quality candidates. The number of projects completed and what kind of projects that your interns will be taking on, in other words, what are their learning objectives.
Number of campus ambassadors. Naturally, you're going to want interns to go back to campus and rave about their experience and your organization, but most companies don't have any formal way to facilitate this. So therefore, you should consider creating a campus ambassador program, which basically just asks students to do what they do anyway, and that's post content on Facebook and Twitter, attend social functions, and so on. Only this time, you'll be asking them to post about their experiences with your company or speak to other campus recruits about what it's like to intern with you. Again, they aren't going out of their way too much, but the difference is that you're tracking it against your benchmark, so it's way more strategic than just hoping that your interns will tell their friends about you.
Number of articles written. This is the amount of press coverage that you received from your internship program, the number of community service initiatives, which you could then use to generate press coverage, and the number of potential hires in the pipeline. It's always easier to make great hires when you have a bench of great candidates in place before you need them. Or as John F. Kennedy once said, "The time to fix the roof is when the sun is shining." And again, notice that all of the bullets on this side are tied to very specific numbers, so there's not a lot of gray area here or a lot of generalizations.
After you complete the benchmarks for your program, you need to refer them often to ensure that you're staying on course. And I think John Flato of Campus Strategic Partners says it best when he says that you have to keep going back to these original metrics. Otherwise, how will you know if your program is succeeding?
About 10 years ago, when Mel Gibson still had a decent reputation, he wrote a film on the revolutionary war called "The Patriot." And there's a scene in the movie where Gibson's character is teaching his little boy how to shoot a gun and he says, "Aim small, miss small." And I love that line because it's such a truth about focus. Obviously, when you know where the target is, you have a much better chance of hitting it. So make sure that you have your benchmarks in place first before you do anything else related to the internship program. We want you to be here in your planning, not here.
So next step is to give your interns real work to do, and I really like this quote from Rick Slater, who's the managing member of the accounting firm Dixon Hughes. And Rick says, "In the past, I think businesses were less strategic about their interns, but for us, it's never been about bringing a bunch of college kids in to make copies and coffee. We consider the program an eight-week job interview." And I think this sums it up nicely because the ultimate goal of your program shouldn't be philanthropic and it shouldn't be administrative.
Of course, with every internship program, there is a portion of grunt work that just has to be done, and I think that that's good. How people handle the "little thing" is usually an indication of how they'll handle big things. But if little things are all your interns are doing, you won't be able to judge them effectively. And as a result, you won't have the information you need to keep your talent pipeline strong. But if you think about the structure of your program, take a hard and honest look at what your interns are actually doing. Because if it's copies and coffee, I think you'll find that while this may be helpful for you in the short term, it's not a very good strategy for the long term.
Now, if you don't trust interns to interface with your clients just yet, you can make up assignments that are based on real work that allow you to test their ability to think critically. For example, an advertising agency intern could be tasked with new creative for a client campaign or an accounting intern could be charged with a mock audit, and so on. The point is to give them assignments that they would be doing if they were hired full time, so that you can legitimately see how they would handle them.
Here are some additional best practices related to structure. You want to assign someone in your office the role of internship manager and hold them accountable for developing the benchmarks, and handling logistics, and keeping the lines of communication open between interns and the rest of your office. At Sirius XM Radio, Ross Herosian directs about 150 interns in three cycles per year. And Ross told me that he is their point person for everything, which keeps the program on track, and coordinated, and avoids a lot of unnecessary confusion that results from communication breakdown.
You also want to build in a few social activities. This is especially importantly at the beginning of the program when you want your group to bond as a team. One idea to consider for that is a volunteer project. I don't think it's any secret today that that places a very high value on service and want to work for companies that share an enthusiasm for giving back. Actually, PriceWaterhouseCoopers went to a whole new level last year when they sent 100 of their interns and staff to volunteer for a week in Belize.
But assuming sending your interns abroad doesn't quite pass the budget test, a group project at a local homeless shelter could be just as meaningful. Plus, getting out of the formal office environment will help them get to know each other and get to know you a little better as people. Introduce them to your clients, especially if you work for a professional services firm. For interns it's pretty exciting to learn about who your clients are and what you do for them. Dixon Hughes, for example, has a lot of Japanese clients so they recently hosted a Japanese culture day where interns received training in Japanese etiquette, followed by a sushi lunch, and then they toured the facility of a manufacturing client that was headquartered in Japan.
Obtain evaluations from multiple supervisors. As a rule, interns should work with a variety of managers because this will give you a broad range of input to consider when making your hiring decisions. Plus, it has the added benefit of allowing some of your newer staff to sort of test under leadership skills. Just make sure you have a written way to collect feedback because you'll need to keep a record in the intern's file. Also, when it comes to feedback, be sure to share it with your interns every step along the way. So it's what the student is doing right and areas for improvement. They thrive on it and they won't improve much without it. So building feedback opportunities into your program is very, very important.
Finally, require a Friday update. Friday updates are actually a test for interns allowing you to gauge their effectiveness and their discipline. So basically, you ask them to send you an email every Friday that outlines in bulleted form a list of their successes, their challenges in the past week, as well as areas where your input is needed, and their goals for the week ahead. Friday updates are great for two reasons: First, you'll be able to see what they're working on in a way that doesn't feel sort of uncomfortable or micromanaging for either of you. Second, at the end of the internship, the students will have a huge list of things that they've accomplished during their time with your organization, which will definitely be beneficial to both of you. I have a chapter in Effective Immediately on Friday updates, and if you'd like to have a copy of that no charge just email me at email@example.com, and I'd be happy to send that to you.
So step two in building a world-class internship program is to be super smart about recruiting. How do you know if you're about to make a bad hire? It's tough, right? We've all been in job interviews, and we know that most people can manage or create a favorable impression of themselves in a 15- to 20-minute window. And most of us can round up at least two or three people who would say nice things about us if called upon. So recruiting is a tricky deal for employers based largely on the fact that bad hires are just so darn expensive. Most of the time, they never break even. In addition to their salary, they cost you the time and the resources to train them. You have to fix their mistakes, and ultimately, you have to bring on their replacements, which starts another round of the training and the cycle continues. If you really have a bad hire, go ahead and factor in the ripple effect of drama and reduced morale, and you can see how important the recruiting functionality is.
You need good candidates and the million-dollar question is how do you find them? To find good candidates, naturally, you can post available positions on Monster particularly in the Monster college community. You also want to reach out to your local colleges and universities as well. And note that this is not the end because when it comes to recruiting a single shot approach, it will never work as well as a layered strategy.
For starters, you want to create a list of schools in your region that have curriculum in your industry. Then you want to figure out who's running the career center and reach out to them directly. At minimum, you can send an email introduction or a LinkedIn request but ideally, it's a good idea to ask them to meet for lunch or coffee so that you can begin to develop a more personal relationship. And this is how our world works today, right? It's not a 100 percent straight line. Instead, you find candidates because someone knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who will be perfect for you. And this is why you have to cast your line via the layered approach because there needs to be multiple ways for recruits to find you.
Another example is that most campuses have at least one career fair every semester. If you don't have the staff or the budget for career fairs, you can host free information sessions campuses as well. You may only have a few people show up, but that may actually be a good thing because those are going to be the folks who are really passionate about your business. And another way to recruit rock star hires is to create job descriptions for your interns so they know what to expect in advance. I got this idea from Cisco Systems and almost no other companies do it that I've seen. Jim McGrath, Cisco's manager for global staffing and university relations says that giving out descriptions has been a very powerful recruiting tool because they allow students to make internship decisions based on the actual work they'll be doing. This format works especially well when posting on Monster because students have access to job descriptions anytime.
Also, before extending a formal offer to your intern recruits, you should really consider bringing them into your office, either individually or as a group, so that you can introduce them to other members of your leadership team and get their feedback on your candidates as well, because the recruiting decision is just too important for one person to make unilaterally.
Finally, use your current interns to recruit future interns, and this side showcases excellent examples from Business News, which has videos, Twitter feeds, and IM features where recruits can get any question answered by an associate who's actually been in their shoes. Also, Sirius XM has a great site called Sirius XM interns where current interns basically blog about what they're doing. These are great recruiting tools because they help potential interns make informed decisions based on real experiences at your organization.
The third step to creating a world-class internship program is to onboard effectively. What is the first thing that comes to mind when I say the word orientation? Is it something like this? I want to introduce you to onboarding. Onboarding is sometimes used interchangeably with orientation, but really, onboarding goes much, much deeper. And this quote from Mark Stein and Lilith Christiansen, a consultant from Kaiser Associates really says it all: "The best and brightest gives weight to the company's plan for them during the first year on the job and beyond. Even during hard times, these recruits are sinking beyond the first 30 days and focusing instead on what employers can do to adjust their long-term aspirations. Yes, today's generation of newbies expect more from their organizations than ever before." And they get a bad rap for seeming entitled. Perhaps, some of that is deserved.
But when it comes to this, when it comes to finding a place where their long-term career needs can be met, it's not being entitled at all for them to be concerned about that. It's being smart actually and it's incumbent upon you as the employer to paint a solid path or risk losing talented grads to another company who will. And this is for onboarding, which is really just a fancy term for controlled orientation comes in. You spend a lot of money and resources structuring your program and finding great hires, so you need to recoup that investment by turning interns into full-time staff. And this means paying attention to what happens after they come through the door.
So let's take Carly whose onboarding experience is pretty typical. On her first day, as an intern at Widgets Inc., Carly received a parking pass, a cup of coffee, an elevator badge, a tour of the office, free reign of the supply closet, a laptop, a brain dump from a host of colleagues on everything from last year's sales to this year's holiday party, and a partridge in a pear tree. After that though, they left her alone to figure everything else up for herself. Does this sound familiar? Now, I can't see you but I know a lot of you out there are nodding your head because we don't really focus strategically on assimilating new staff at all in business today. So, that's sad, because again, we have a lot of money tied up in finding candidates and then they leave them alone to stand around. And then we're surprised when they leave.
The average worker is estimated to have between 10 to 15 jobs in their lifetime now. And to me, that's just crazy. So one way to stop the revolving door and keep your talent is to train your people. Yes, most orientation programs provide a general overview of an organization's policies and procedures in the space of a couple hours or a couple of days and you need that, of course. You have to have that, but that's not what gets people out of bed in the morning or invest it in your company for the long haul.
So let's talk about, onboarding. Onboarding rules out and takes a look at the entire new employee assimilation process with particular emphasis to learn how to tie each employee's individual goals to the strategic initiatives of your company. It has to be a win-win for both of you or it's just not worth it. So onboarding is definitely a more personalized, and yes, it's a more time-intensive approach, but successful onboarding has been proven to lower employee turnover and increase employee satisfaction. So it's an investment with some serious returns.
The difference between onboarding and orientation. Onboarding involves the highest levels of leadership within your organization and the how to effectively onboard question should be posed way back in step one during program development. By contrast, orientations are generally held with no real direct involvement from the top. Onboarding programs are strategic. You ask your recruits at the beginning, what their career objectives are, so that you can find a way to tie those to the goals of your business and this is way different than just sort of checking a box because he covered the dress code.
Orientation programs are also one day or half day, whereas onboarding ideally lasts half a year plus a year for full-time hires. In other words and this is really important you develop performance benchmark with the new staff. And then you check-in with them at least quarterly to see how it's going. Now, you would also have benchmark for your interns but obviously, just on a reduced timeframe.
Again, onboarding is a long-term strategic process with accountability measures like the plan I just discussed, while orientations are usually one-shot-deals where once it's over, you're never exposed to the information again. Onboarding is a dialog; you're taking into account the employees' long-term needs as Mark and Lilith outlined before and you're not just subjecting your interns to one-way communication from you where only the company's priorities are addressed.
So a couple ideas to make onboarding fun for a group of interns icebreakers. On day one, you need to get your group comfortable and engaged from the very beginning. Professionalism 101 training and I love role playing for this because you can give them a sticky situation like, "Mary just wrote a blog post about an obnoxious colleague, and you know she's talking about you, what do you do?" And it's fun because it teaches them important lessons but in a way that lets them figure it out for themselves.
Q&A with top leadership at your company. Interns are always impressed when a company leadership speaks to them directly.
Q&A with top clients for another perspective. Make them give a presentation. And I love this because the old saying, "If you want to learn, teach" is so true. Plus for interns, this gives you the opportunity to evaluate their communication skills, which are obviously so important in business. Find ways for them to experience what you do as well. So if you're the litigation firm, you take them to the courtroom. If you're a nonprofit, you introduce them to the people you serve and so on.
And finally, end it with a dinner or other special outing where there's no business allowed. Again, this is an example of one of the things that you want to build in to the program, so your people can get to know each other and it's about bonding as a team outside the office.
I have some additional resources if you're interested in learning more about onboarding. "Successful Onboarding" is frankly a book I wish I would have written on the subject. It's excellent and it's in-depth. It's an in-depth look into the onboarding process from Mark Stein and Lilith Christiansen with a lot of excellent information of it. I don't have the time to cover today.
Also, if you're on Facebook, this is my brand new page where I provide the latest information on college to career success including onboarding articles. Finally, this slide is a quote directly from a Monster College survey participant, "Only take on interns if you are fully willing to invest the amount of time it takes to welcome, train, assist, mentor, teach, and evaluate them to make the experience valuable, rewarding, and positive." And I really could not have said it better myself.
My last tip on building a world-class internship program is to keep in touch. But before I dive into the why and the how related to this point, I want to encourage all of you to give your interns both an exit survey and an exit interview before the end of your program.
We talked about feedback already. So ideally, you'll each be pretty informed about what's working and what can be improved. But let me give you an example of how an exit survey can be a real game changer. Qualcomm is another huge software company, and they learned as a direct result of their exit surveys that housing was a huge issue for their interns. So what they decided to do was to pay 100 percent of the housing costs for their interns. Ah ha, right? They had a 41 percent increase in interns to full-time hires, so that meant 100 new grads that came from the internship program rather than on-campus recruiting. And as a result, Qualcomm saved $550,000 and that's after factoring in the cost of the housing program.
So in addition to the cost savings, Qualcomm has discovered that the "best hire" is designed by performance plus longevity that they can make is with the former intern. And their current CEO started out as an intern, so I think that they may be onto something there. Incidentally, Adam told me that the housing program is now the single hire favorite item on the intern satisfaction survey. So don't let your interns go without asking them how you can improve your program and be prepared to act on it when they do.
Small businesses typically hire in a just-in-time cycle. Hiring employees at the time when they need them. But these days, larger companies are hiring up to a year in advance. So once your surveys are done and your interns are back at school, how can you keep them engaged with your business?
Here are a couple of ideas. Send a final care package. This could include snacks, Mountain Dew, or Starbucks gift cards something to let them know that you're thinking about them and that you're wishing them success. Assign a key member of your staff to keep in touch. Cisco also has full-time employees to maintain contact between friends and even friends at school. And I think it's been a great, best practice for them. Invite recruits to your company parties and activities. Mail them your newsletters and announcements so that they can stay in the loop, and reach out to them over Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. If you see that it's their birthday, for example, if you see that they're going on vacation, comment on that so that they can feel that you're keeping up with them.
Again, if you have a longer lead time between your internship program and when you expect to bring people on full time, you have to keep them engaged or you could risk losing them. Last week, I was asked to give advice for a Wall Street Journal article to a reader who had accepted an offer with one company but in the meantime, had received another offer that she wanted more, and she didn't know what to do. So this is a real issue. As I've said before, you don't want to lose your recruiting investment, so stay in touch and make them feel like a member of your team already, even while they're still on campus.
So two takeaways from this event: Number one, know your benchmarks. If you aim at nothing, you're guaranteed to hit it every time. At the end of your internships, be sure to evaluate your program based on the success metrics that we discussed before. Give interns real work to do. You have to find ways to evaluate their ability to handle the specific job that they would be hired for, and you can't do that if all they do is grunt work. You have to make sure that the structure of your program lives up to the promises that you made to these students in the recruiting cycle.
Along those lines, recruit with purpose. This goes back to understanding what those benchmarks are and what kind of hires that you need from your program in the first place. And if as you're going through the process of benchmarking, you discover that all you have is grunt work, then you don't need interns, you need a temp.
Get familiar with onboarding. Again, think beyond a simple orientation because the formal training and coaching of a new employee shouldn't end on the Friday of their first week. If you're going to have a winning chance of converting your best interns, you need them to feel welcome and comfortable and supported within your organization, and that's an ongoing process. Again, you have the opportunity to make a great impression or you leave employees totally frustrated, and it's entirely up to you to choose what it's going to be.
And finally, keep in touch, which is what we've just discussed.
But no matter what you do, do not turn your program into a competition. I've actually heard horror stories about businesses with interns that, for example, this intern would try and snag an invite to a company event but wouldn't tell any of the other interns that they would be the only one there networking with the boss. Worst of all, in this particular example, the intern was actually applauded for her ambition, which is terrible and sends a poor message about your company culture.
Everybody already knows that some of your intern candidates may not make the cut to full-time hire, but rewarding, and in this case fostering, negative behavior like that is a lose-lose. That said, if your interns make honest mistakes and we all know that they will give them a break because they're new to this whole workforce thing and as Ross from Sirius says, "We take for granted that students should know how to dress and behave at work, but like it or not, this is often the experience that will teach them to know better." That is the end of my presentation. My contact information is on this slide, so please feel free to reach out to me if you have any follow-up questions and with that, I'm going to turn it back to Randi who will moderate the official Q&A.
[chuckles] That was absolutely wonderful. So I'd like to thank Emily very much for sharing her insight, her knowledge with everyone today. At this time, I'd like to ask a Verizon meeting manager to help support our Q&A sessions.
Thank you so much. If you would like to ask a question over the telephone, please press star, then one. You'll be prompted to state your name. That'll be needed so we can announce line when it opens again. Star then one, and one moment for our first response.
All right and while we're waiting for that, we have a lot of questions that came in through WebEx. Again, if you have a question you'd like to type it in, feel free to type it into the Q&A section on your computer screen. So the first question that I have, came in about halfway through your presentation that says, "Do you recommend paid versus unpaid internships? And how does a paid internship influence the break-even point?"
That's a great question. I do actually recommend paying interns versus simple college credit. For one, I think that right, wrong, or indifferent, it helps them become a little bit more invested in your company, and a little bit more loyal. I do recommend paying them. In fact, most interns are paid. The National Association of Colleges and Employers just did a survey, and they found that 99% of respondents were actually paying their interns, and that the average hourly wage for interns at the bachelor's degree level was $17 an hour. I do recommend paying interns for sure. But a lot of companies think that they can't afford to have an internship program because it is expensive. But for the most part, in surveys that have been done by Monster and other organizations, what they find is that students want to be interned for the experience first and foremost. So note that the experience is ultimately what the student is in the internship for, but that said, I do think you should pay them.
We have another question here that does talk about drawing interns to not-for-profits. In this case, there may not be money to pay those interns and a good way to get interns to go the not-for-profit route.
Well, definitely. I mean I know there are lots of people out there who work at not-for-profits because they genuinely love the work. And if you have somebody who has their heart in not-for-profit, then they'll be attracted to your organization based on your mission. So again, go back to selling the experiences that you can give them and the difference that your organization makes, and then I think that you'll make a pretty strong case for recruiting those interns, who are naturally drawn to the nonprofit world in the first place.
Betsy, I'm going to ask back if there's any questions over the phone. If not, I'll continue this thing.
Thank you. I actually had no requests on the phone lines.
All right. So, while we wait, if anyone wants to ask a question over the phone, we do have a lot of questions that came in through the WebEx exchange. So one question talks about exit surveys and examples of questions to be asked on exit surveys, or if you have any examples that are available as a resource for people who need to put exit surveys together?
Certainly. I have a couple of examples of exit surveys and again, feel free to email me. My contact information is on the side here and I'd be glad to send those to you. But basically, exit surveys, you want to be able to gauge what is working in your program and what needs to be improved. So the exit survey really is as much for your organization to move forward with improving your program as it is for the intern.
Now, this is a little different than the feedback forms that I was talking about earlier where you want to build opportunities throughout your internship programs to have feedback with your interns and feedback from multiple supervisors. And the last thing that you want to have happen is to be at the very end of your internship program, and then you sit down with your intern, and maybe you talk about some things that need to be improved, and the intern is completely blindsided by what you're telling them. And you can avoid that by building in feedback with steps all along the way. So, that's really, really important.
But exit surveys, you definitely want to capture what you're doing right, specific examples of when the intern felt really good about the decision that they'd made to intern with your company and if they have any ideas for how you can make the internship program better. I've worked in organizations where I've managed intern programs and they'll tell you.
One of the reasons why I'm so keen on social events for interns is because one of the interns sent me an email and said, "Hey, wouldn't it be great if we could all go white water rafting? What an incredible bonding experience that would be." And I thought, "What a great idea." So from then on, we started to incorporate social events into internship programs, and it really has been really beneficial and I think along the lines, the earlier that you can incorporate the social activities, the better, because again, you want them to bond as a team early at the beginning of your program verses the end.
We have a question about metrics and it says, "Can you provide some examples of metrics to evaluate an internship that will not turn into full-time employment? Reasons to help people evaluate their internship program."
Yeah, absolutely. It's hard to explain over the phone but you may want to create, for example, like an Excel spreadsheet where in the left hand column you have the list of the names. And then on the top, across the top, you have the specific skills that you're looking to evaluate. So you would have like communication skills how well are they communicating what they want to their colleagues and supervisors. You could have presentation skills.
This goes back to giving them those opportunities to really showcase these skills, so you give them the opportunity to actually make a presentation, and then you evaluate them on how their doing on that. You could evaluate them on their social skills, whether they're an introvert or whether they're an extrovert. Or leadership skills how often do the other interns look at this particular candidate for guidance and advice? Coaching skills, all that sort of thing. If you have those different skills at the top, and then you have the candidates on the left, and so you really have a good sort of 30,000-foot overview of all of them depending on how big your program is, and you can take a look at them collectively in that way.
Emily, is there an online focus group or a knowledge area for employers who are either running internships now or looking to start one?
I would assume it would be something like that on Monster in the college community where you could communicate with other employers, and share best practices, and such. And be part of webinars like this where this type of information is being shared.
Yeah, I know at Monster, we do have college.monster.com, which is a great site that we have that's geared to actually the emerging workforce itself, but employers are also welcome to join that discussion, so it's a good place for people to hang out and discuss. I didn't know if there were others that you knew beyond them.
No, I don't know of too many places online where you can share with other program managers in real time. I'm not familiar with that.
What about ways to understand whether an intern would be good for an internship at the beginning, before you actually hire that person as an intern. The question asks, "Is it the same as employing them? Is it the same as looking at a new employee?"
Well, yeah, it is the same as looking at a new employee because ultimately, the purpose of the internship program is to decide whether or not you want to bring on this person as a full time entry-level hire, and that's one of the things that's so great about internships is that again, you can audition potential staff without really a whole lot of investment in that.
Certainly, considerably less investment than it is to make a bad hire, as we discussed earlier and all the things that kind of ripple out from making that hire. But yeah, you want to evaluate your potential employees through the internship program so that when they come on board, when you make your selections, then those interns that are now entry-level hires can hit the ground running, can take break even earlier. You don't have to spend a whole lot of time training them because they got a lot of the baseline knowledge that they need to excel in your organization through the internship program.
So by the time that they're ready to start full time, they're often running from day one. So again, that's just one of the real benefits of the internship program. That's why frankly, they're growing in such an exponential way, and why their businesses are really taking them seriously as an evaluation tool for hires.
Let me just ask again if there's any questions over the phone before I continue.
Presently, none on the phone lines.
All right. So let me continue with the questions that have been typed in. There is a question about having icebreakers. Do you have some good examples of icebreakers for college students to integrate them within the business?
Yeah. One of my favorite examples of icebreakers is to have a list of questions. For example, the favorite color is orange, went to camp in Sydney, have been to London, whatever. You have a list of questions like that and then you just hand out those questions to everyone on the audience and then you have to say, "Okay, whoever has been to London, for example, has to actually sign your sheet." So then, you just turn them loose and it's fun. It's kind of controlled chaos because everyone is trying to figure out who can sign those form. And whoever gets all of the questions answered by different people in the room wins, and then they get some sort of a prize that's to be determined by your organization. But that's a really fun icebreaker and I've seen it done many times, and I've never seen it fall flat.
We have a question here that says, "Would offering learning opportunities like training and job shadowing help enrich an entry-level world? Is that enough to do? Are there more things that should be done?"
Absolutely. I think that the job-shadowing role is very, very important. And I want to touch on that briefly because I think that with internships in particular, they need to have a broad range of experiences. For example, if you work for an accounting firm, your core business is related to audit, tax, litigation, and whatnot, so rather than bringing in interns and just putting them on like a tax track and making them stick in that track for the whole length of the internship, you give them opportunities to sample different sides of what you do, so that they come out of that with a very broad experience of what your company is, so that they don't get stuck on that track, and they have a better sense of different options available to them when they graduate within your organization.
One of the ways to do that is through the job shadowing, so you have various managers, or associates, or whatnot that actually spend some time with the interns. But here's where job shadowing can go wrong. Again, we talked about how it all comes back to upfront planning. What I see happening a lot is companies with the very best intentions to have their interns shadow or be mentored by various people in the organization. But what happens is that the needs of the intern aren't communicated directly to the people that are going to be job shadows.
So, what they end up doing is saying, "Okay. Well, I've got " They don't end up planning their day around the fact that they're going to be shadowed. So the intern sits there and watches them back on his computer and that's not helpful for anybody. So if you're going to implement a job shadowing, a component to your internship program, then make sure that the managers are very aware of that and what you want the interns to get out of it.
I talked about learning objectives earlier. What do you want the interns to learn from shadowing you for a day? And then be very clear about what that manager should be doing in their day. Maybe they should be out talking to clients. That's a great experience for an intern to have. Maybe they should be meeting with their internal team, just thinking about it up front and not just reacting to the fact that the interns come today and the manager's like, "Oh well, I guess I have to do something with them." So, it's all about upfront planning.
Do you recommend employers have co-op programs and how do you differentiate between a co-op and an intern?
I've never worked directly on a co-op program so I'm not 100% sure that this is correct. But I think that they swap jobs with someone else in an organization. Is that right? It's related to a problem. I'm not all that familiar with them but the intern program, as we discussed earlier, it's an internal program specific to an organization, and they're paid by that company to perform services related to the objectives of that company. So no, definitely, with co-ops.
How can you show management the return on investment from an internship program before you actually begin one?
That's a great question. It actually goes back to what I talked about at the beginning of the presentation where you create those success metrics. You create the success metrics based on the number of full-time hires that you're going to need, how you're going to recruit them, what you want them to learn, how you're going to develop your employee brand with other interns and other potential recruits on campus.
All of these things are related to the very specific reasons to have an internship program, and you can use those to build your business case. I think that the best business case for an internship program is related to fact that you can audition potential entry-level hires. It really saves you from making a bad hire because you have potential new employees come in. They are with you for a very short time. Be very clear upfront about how long they're going to be working with you, when their termination date is. From there, you make a decision as to whether or not you're going to bring them on full time. If they don't work out for your company, then that's fine. No strings were attached and you part as friends.
So for a boss, I think that that would be a very motivating reason to have an internship program, because again, there's some investment up front. But what's the ROI? The ROI is that you save yourself from it ultimately from making a bad hiring decision, which is, ultimately, more expensive in the long run.
I think we only have time for one more question. So the question that came in was talking about the length of time for internships to last. Should it be six months or a year, in order to really provide a great internship for the intern, as well as good feedback and response to the business?
Yeah. That's a good question. Ultimately, you're probably going to be considering students, intern students at local colleges or whatnot. You want to work on their schedule so you would have a fall internship, which would be somewhere from August to December. You could do a spring internship from January to May, or you could do a summer internship from June to August, or whatnot. A lot of businesses have eight-week internship programs in the summer, and a couple months' internship programs in the fall and spring semesters. And that seems to work really well for students. As long as you're willing to be flexible with their class schedule and they're willing to be flexible for the commitments that they've made to your organization and be available for you.
All right. We're almost at the top of the hour, so at this time, I'd really like to thank our speaker, Emily Bennington, for sharing her expertise for us today. I am going to conclude our event. A recording of this event as well as the presentation materials will be available shortly on our hiring site, hiring.monster.com, under the resource center tab. And again, all those who participate in the webinar today will receive an email in a few days with a direct link to these materials. Check out hiring.monster.com and the HR events area for upcoming events this fall. Thanks so much everyone for joining us. Have a wonderful day.