How to keep your interns after graduation

August 22, 2014 | By: Jessie Gould | 2 min read
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According to a 2014 CareerXroads report, of the interns who are actually full-time material, only 32% accept full-time job offers. Why is that number so low? Aren’t internships supposed to be a sustainable recruiting method?

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I held internships all through my college years. My friends all held internships too. But at the end of the four years, you are faced with the decision to choose what you’re going to do with your life. Here are the main reasons interns stick with the companies they intern with.

They’re growing

Interns stay because they know they are not just free/cheap labor. From the beginning, treat your intern as an apprentice. Invest. Teach. The interns who are learning and being challenged with new material will know that the company cares about their development, and that staying on will allow them to continue that growth. In today’s competitive job market, developing competencies is paramount. And your interns know it.

They aren’t offered a position they don’t want

Millennials grew up with the mindset of ‘you can be anything you want to be.’ They know what their skills are worth and they want to be valued for those abilities in their career. Maybe even more importantly, they want all those years of college to mean something. Unfortunately, while in an internship, many interns recognize that they are among the more replaceable members of a company and may fear speaking up about the job duties that just don’t fit for their skill set. This can lead to problems when the company offers a full-time position in the same area as the internship.

To combat unattractive job offers, create a space for honest communication. Tell your intern why they are needed at your company and find out what their true career aspirations are. Pro tip: Have this conversation before graduation. Together you can find ways to help develop desired skills and launch the intern into a position that truly catches his or her interest.

They have friends at work

It can be hard for a part-time intern to build a relationship with full-time coworkers, especially if the other employees are at a different stage in life. But for the millennial, connection is paramount. More so than baby boomers and even generation X, millennials value sharing their personal lives with their coworkers. Millennials also tend to be more loyal to individuals than to organizations. Utilize this. Invite them to company events. Help them connect. Give them a desk nearby people they mesh well with. Interns with friends are happy interns, and happy interns make happy coworkers.

Sometimes it just doesn’t work out

An intern might do great work, might enjoy their experience, and yet will turn down an offer for a full-time position. Maybe they want to take a gap year before jumping in the job world, or maybe fulfill a childhood dream in another industry. Maybe anything. In these situations, the only thing you can do is leave them on the best note possible. Send them off with a stellar letter of recommendation, some LinkedIn endorsements, and a pocketful of contacts. He or she will be sure to tell friends about the great experience, potentially winning you some new hires. And who knows? Perhaps one day that intern will return with a host of new competencies to bring value to your company. The bottom line is this: Take care of your interns. It’s win-win.

We offer our interns hands-on involvement in significant projects, mentorship from experienced professionals, and all the trappings that make an internship an ideal situation. Check out our current openings to see how you can become a part of our team.

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