Why You Should Start An Internship Program
Anna Lewis, Former Senior Recruiter
Objections to starting an internship program are not in short supply. The most common among them? Evaluating countless bright-eyed and bushy-tailed college kids takes too much time. Interns show up with few or no real skills and become a huge time suck for busy teams. All the good interns expect to be paid and that costs too much, given how competitive the internship market has become in recent years.
Such objections aren’t unreasonable. They reflect the real challenges many companies face in committing to an internship program. But the fact remains that an internship program is one of the strongest long-term recruiting tools available and well worth a significant investment of time and money. Here’s why.
- An easy target. Your target demographic is conveniently corralled within college communities. That makes spreading the word among students much easier than spreading the word among later-career applicants already dispersed throughout the work force. Outreach opportunities abound: college job boards, career services, InternMatch, emailing professors, and, most importantly, leveraging last summer’s crop of interns to talk up your internship among friends on campus.
- An internship is an interview in disguise. Whether your interns are around for a few weeks or all summer, you’ll learn more about their skill set and culture fit than in a normal round of interviews. Yes, it’s a major investment of time from mentors to guide and assess interns. But the quantity and quality of information they’ll get will lead to much higher quality full-time hires.
- Bigger, badder talent. For many fields in the creative tech industry, the quality of raw talent and potential you see among college-age applicants is simply higher than what you’ll see among mid-career applicants. Top talent gets snagged straight out of college and rarely re-enters the job market (and then, only at astronomically high salary levels) -- so you’d better be the one to snag it, early and often.
- Lots of applicants = lots of practice. Internship application volume can be overwhelming, and it’s your job to make sure processing stays fast and efficient. But there’s a silver-lining to all that work: your interviewers get a lot of focused practice. The result? They’ll wield well-honed screening skills when it comes to year-round full-time recruiting.
- When interns grow up... At Viget, we consider each and every hire a long-term investment, and that’s just as true for interns who join full-time. Helping a talented young person launch and develop his or her career within your own culture encourages loyalty, improves retention, and lets you build a strong, internal pipeline for those hardest-to-fill, senior-level roles of the future.
- Everyone hearts interns! Interns bring new energy and enthusiasm to projects and company culture. Harmless shenanigans should be encouraged! The more that interns contribute to the company culture in authentic ways, the greater the morale boost you’ll see across the company.
- The money thing. Paying interns can be a challenge, especially for small companies running internships for the first time. Remember that, alongside a stipend or credit, simple perks can go a long way in making interns feel loved. Play up your culture and the professional advantages of your internship to attract talented students genuinely excited about the experience you offer.
- You can’t spell “internet” without “intern.” Need I say more?
Viget has had great interns over the years, and we’re proud that many of them have joined us full-time. In the past year, we set about implementing an even more comprehensive internship program across all three offices and most of our teams. Now that you’ve heard a case for why you should start an internship program, you might be wondering how. Stay tuned for upcoming posts on how we did it and what we’ve learned along the way.