#ThreeTips: Intern Programs

We have launched a new series for our blog titled #ThreeTips. We are in search of Three Tips from our friends in the business community for their creative, actionable, and positive ideas about important topics in the employee experience.


In collaboration with Jeffrey Moss, Founder and CEO of Parker Dewey and Elise Gelwicks, Founder of Internview.

While there is much conversation about a tight labor market for recent college grads, Gallop has reported that 47% of college students are either under- or unemployed. Furthermore, NACE reports that over 80% of hiring managers rate problem solving, communication, and work ethic as within the top five skills, and only 55% want to see specific computer skills. To that, the issue is not a skills gap as there are ample recent college grads available who have these core skills, but companies are often limiting their potential pool of talent.

  1. Some companies still recruit and select interns using the same criteria as they do for full-time roles, heavily relying on GPA, major, and school to predict success. In contrast, top HR leaders are leveraging the temporary nature of internships and Micro-Internships to gain a competitive advantage. Specifically, they recognize that this type of role makes it easier to “take a chance” on someone without the traditional academic profile, while allowing hiring managers to experience the grit, potential, ambition, and skills of these career launchers firsthand. As a result, these organizations expand their talent pool, drive diversity, gain early access to candidates, and improve conversion in a way that is cost effective and sustainable.

  2. Internship programs are most successful when they are well structured. Companies should create a detailed project plan with key milestones, deliverables, and events so expectations are clearly defined. An established feedback format and cadence is also critical to ensure interns get the coaching they need to be effective and efficient.

  3. In addition to assigning a manager to each intern, connect them with someone who can be their mentor. The mentor is ideally someone on a different team who inters can go to with questions and advice that they don't feel comfortable talking to their manager about.

HR leaders should find ways to position their internship and new hire programs in a way that positively engages hiring managers. With almost 50% of hiring managers currently utilizing freelancers, they are demonstrating both a need for project-based support and a willingness to work with individuals outside of the four walls of the company. HR should embrace this, providing ways for hiring managers to engage college students in the same way both through freelance assignments and by structuring internship programs as a series of project-based assignments. As a result hiring managers have a better experience, HR can gain real insights into potential job candidates, and potential candidates have a better experience leading to hire conversion.

What are your thoughts on intern programs? Leave a comment below or email us your thoughts!

Enjoy our content? Take a look at our library of #ThreeTips here.

Want to share your tips on this or another topic around the employee experience? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Tom Alexander