“Since when did Forbes start talking about interns?” a colleague of mine mentioned at a recent meeting. I quickly responded that everyone in the marketplace should be.
The days of interns spending summers stapling papers are gone. Rather, today’s interns are selected by competitive interview processes and portfolios that demonstrate ready skills and are underscored with the notion of mentorship. Across the state and national educational landscape, people are talking about the new wave of “interns.”
Glassdoor, a job sharing website, conducted a survey of thousands of interns to determine what companies ranked the highest for internship experience and interview difficulty on a five-point scale. There were few surprises with Facebook, Google and eBay being in the top slots, as they are heavily touted for their hiring and mentoring processes.
According to the survey, common characteristics that led to a positive internship experience, from a student perspective, included opportunities for career advancement, purposeful mentorship, fair compensation and a culture that makes them feel valued.
What can you expect from your incoming interns, and what should they expect from you?
As an employer, you should expect students to come to you with a fresh perspective, a desire to learn more and a portfolio demonstrating what they can do. Colleges like College of the Ouachitas and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock are requiring portfolios that demonstrate what skills students already have on which employers could capitalize, and advisory boards help the colleges better understand what businesses in the area are needing. Interns should expect their employing agency to have an interest in their professional development and curiosities, much like you see Facebook trying to assess with their pre-internship survey.
So, why is it important for a business to hire interns?
First, it is the altruism that comes from providing students with an opportunity to gain experience in a desired industry while working under the tutelage of professionals. This is your chance to develop a meaningful mentoring relationship with someone who is genuinely interested in how you do what you do.
Second, it gives you a competitive edge. During an internship, you have the rare opportunity to consider how well-prepared a future applicant is, to test their skills of creative thinking and independence and to evaluate the academic rigor of the college or university that they attend — without ever having to hire them. Each of these incentives helps businesses hire the best future employees into their ranks.
Rockwell’s Recommendation: Give your company a jump-start on hiring the best…hire an intern.