Student Interns: Talent Pipeline or Indentured Servitude?

The importance of student internships is undeniable: An overwhelming 95% of employers say that candidate experience influences hiring decisions. In addition, 75% of companies with student intern programs say the program’s goal is to increase talent pipeline, a fact supported by the 2017 job offer rate for interns reaching 67% with a 76% acceptance rate, according to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. In essence, internships are the ultimate recruiting channel and play an integral role in shaping a student’s early career path.

So, why are internships seen as modern indentured servitude by some, while for others they represent the first stepping stone in a neophyte’s chosen career? The answer may be because different employers enable―or disenable―interns in varying ways.

To help your company set up student interns to contribute positively to your team and appreciate the opportunity your internship program offers, we asked EO members to share their student intern experiences and best practices. The resulting six-part series explores the best and worst and the dos and don’ts, to help your company transform its internship program.

Here’s a wrap-up of our student internship blog series:

4 Benefits of a Student Internship Program: Think student interns would be more of a hindrance than a benefit to your team? In this compilation post, eight EO members share real-world reasons to reconsider that position, including infusing enthusiasm into your team, providing management experience to current employees, solving specific problems with fresh insights, and developing the ultimate “try before you buy” recruiting channel.

6 Student Internship Pitfalls to Avoid: Student internships can bring unique benefits to both to your organization and the students when the program is thoughtfully and strategically crafted. In this compilation post, eight EO members offer their experiences in sidestepping pitfalls to optimize their internship programs, including lack of a concrete plan, unrealistic expectations, menial task overload and assuming your internship program will flourish without effort from your team.

Was it Their Internship . . . or Mine? Elliott Holt, CEO of MediCopy Services, Inc. and EO Nashville member, didn’t plan to incorporate student interns in his company. But then his EO chapter partnered with Vanderbilt University to give football players internship opportunities with local businesses. Impressed by the commitment of his five interns who attended two football practices per day while also working enthusiastically on his team, his outlook changed completely. Elliott, now a proponent of student interns, shares his game-changing perspective.

5 Best Practices of a Robust Mentorship Program: Jessica Moseley, CEO of TCS Interpreting, is an EO Washington, DC, member. Her agency benefits from a well-developed internship and mentorship program that allows students and new interpreters to hone their skills in providing world-class language access to the deaf community. A collateral benefit to the program is that employees have become more highly engaged in their work. Jessica shares best practices for growing a healthy internship program.

3 Ways to Engage Generation Z through Student Internships: Matt Stewart, EO Orange County member and former member of EO’s Global Board, is the founder of College Works Painting. His company routinely hires student interns, giving him experience working with the up-and-coming Generation Z. This new generation is vastly different in work styles and preferences than their Millennial predecessors. If you don’t yet have a strategy for optimizing your relationship with Gen Zers, Matt shares his insights and best practices for doing so.

Breaking the Stigma of Student Internships: Ken Jurina is an EO Edmonton member and founder and CEO of Top Draw, a digital marketing agency. Top Draw’s president, Adriel Michaud, shares the agency’s best practices for providing forward-thinking internships where students and recent grads are encouraged to contribute from Day One. Their best practices, as outlined in the post, attract high-quality interns with fresh perspectives, developing a pipeline of new talent in a region where competition for high-quality employees is steep.

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