Let’s give all our interns a great experience. It’s good karma and practice to leave the work world better than you found it, and we’re giving students an opportunity to explore their interests and develop interesting careers. Also, it’s a great pipeline for future full-time hires. And, if you know us, you know what’s coming: it’s great for recruitment marketing content. Great experiences are great stories, and you’ll have compelling content and be waaaay ahead when recruiting next year’s top talent.
Here’s how you make the first job a great experience:
1. Give them work they’re good at. Not sure where to start? Embrace generational stereotypes. The most obvious: college interns are social. For example, 85% of college students use Facebook, compared to 68% of the US adult population. And, most companies could improve their presence on social media. For example, the traffic for this blog post spiked months later, when we were recruiting for our next intern class. Candidates mentioned reading it during the interview process as a reason they were considering our company. Best of all, we didn’t ask Heather to write it, it was natural for her to talk about her experience because of her sharing social nature.
2. Take them to your leaders. Although, college students aren’t martians. They’re just like you and me, searching for purpose and finding a fit. Mentorship helps. Dell has an open door policy, allowing interns to ask questions and develop mentoring relationships. Interns who have access to leadership are able to explore their own interests and start to envision potential career paths. They shouldn’t just be learning from you, no matter how awesome you are: expand their work world. Involve your manager to create a skip-level relationship or ask a peer in another department to take your intern to coffee. Michael Dell recently spoke to a new intern class, why don’t you ask your company’s CEO or founder do the same?
3. Give them your job for a day as a stretch assignment. You know who’s helping me write this? One of our new interns Cassie, because we’re the cobbler’s kids here: we create great content for others, such as CVS Health, but very rarely put out our own to engage and build our audience. Writing about what we know is always on my list, but never at the top. It’s her third day in a new job in a new industry and she’s asked to write about it, so this is likely a challenge. Together with number one, Cassie is already loving it here (ha ha). Heather R. is going to help us build a web tool for client engagement, which she’s never done before. College students may not always have the experience, but don’t let that stop you from kicking those perpetual to-do list items over to raw talent.
4. Treat them like they’re customers. People often ask how I like working for myself. Ha! The truth is, I work for clients and I work for our team members. When you take a servant-leader approach to management, you’re there to make other people successful. It leads to higher job performance and lower turnover which everyone likes.
5. Let them run with it. Heather R. is helping us bid on government contracts, which she had some exposure to in her last internship. She’s going to run the whole thing for us this summer. Having autonomy at work boosts job performance and retention. Autonomy leads to higher job satisfaction.
6. Share your numbers. Really. What do you have to lose by connecting your intern class to your big goals and disclosing where you are along the way to achieving it? For example, sharing information about your finances can help employees make smarter decisions on the job, and they feel more included and tied to the results.
We’re giving a great first job experience to our college students because it’s good business. But it’s also good recruitment marketing.
Stories Inc. interviewed last year’s class of interns at Dell and created content to tell their stories, which Dell is using to recruit this year’s interns. This content now has over 1.4 million social impressions.
If your interns are talking, next year’s class is listening.