Training Your Interns: An Investment in Your Company’s Future

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Training Your Interns: An Investment in Your Company’s Future

Providing employees with opportunities for training and development is typically framed in terms of a long term investment by the employer. You, the employer, invest time and resources into developing an employee’s skill set and in turn they become a more valuable contributor. Ideally, this employee feels appreciated and valued enough to stick around and make your investment worthwhile.

So why, according to the 2014 Intern & Recent Grad Survey, do almost half (44%) of the Northeast Ohio organizations that participated provide one or more formalized training opportunities to their interns? Plus, as it turns out, the training and development of interns doesn’t stop with formal training programs, but also includes a wide variety of valuable development tools that can be applied to any employee.
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The Top 5 Reasons Employers Hire Interns

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benefits of internships for employers hire interns

With summer just around the corner, many employers are going through the process of hiring one or more summer interns into their organization right now. But why go through all the effort of hiring, training and supervising a short term, inexperienced employee who will probably have to leave your organization to go back to school come fall?

As it turns out there are plenty of reasons why. Here are the top five reasons cited by employers: 
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Even More Reasons to Hire Interns & Recent Grads

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According to the 2013 ERC/NOCHE Intern & Recent Graduate Pay Rates & Practices Survey 85% of employers with internship programs in place indicated that they will be either maintaining or expanding their programs in 2013. Organizations also report that 48% of their entry-level positions are filled using new college graduates. These numbers clearly demonstrate an ongoing commitment by Northeast Ohio organizations to building strong internship programs and bringing young graduates into their workforces. However, this year’s survey also reveals some unexpected opportunities and perks that further bolster the importance of hiring interns and recent grads from more of an organizational development perspective.

Building Networks

Employers looking to hire interns or recent graduates continue to collaborate closely with colleges and universities in the area, most often using the job boards at colleges and universities themselves. This strong connection between the area’s higher education institutions and local employers is also thriving on a more personal level with 61% of respondents taking time to build relationships with professors in order to find interns and 40% drawing upon their alumni contacts when seeking new college graduates to fill positions at their organization. Despite a strong focus on online recruiting overall, employers still find value in the face-to-face networking opportunities that their connections to colleges and universities provide.
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Schools Popular with Local Employers for Interns and Grads

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From April 2012 to April 2013, respondents to the 2013 ERC/NOCHE Intern & Recent Graduate Survey have hired interns or recent graduates from well over 100 higher education institutions. Familiar local names such as University of Akron, Kent State University, and Case Western Reserve University top the list at more than 20 organizations each, but a plethora of smaller colleges and out-of-state institutions are also listed.
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An Employer's Guide to College Recruiting

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You have everything to offer: jobs to fill, a great workplace, exciting career paths, meaningful work, and a terrific staff. How do you leverage all of this to gain an edge in recruiting a fresh, talented, and enthusiastic May grad? We've compiled a brief employer's guide for successful college recruitment.

Identify talent needs. Determine the talent you need now, the talent you will need in the future, and which departments would benefit from a new college graduate or entry-level role.

Get rid of your traditional practices. Young people are drawn to innovative and non-traditional organizations. Dress down, color your walls, open up your office environment, and change your policies. Attracting this generation requires thinking differently about work.

Create an online presence. Young people spend the majority of their time online and on social media outlets. Use social media, your website, and mobile apps to engage with young people and highlight your culture and workplace.

Build an attractive employment brand for young people. What does your organization offer that is unique and that young people want? Young people generally desire to follow their passions, work on something meaningful, develop their career, and have work/life balance. Create a compelling message that attracts the younger generation.

Promote clear career opportunities and paths. Young people are concerned about the career opportunities they can take advantage of at your organization and how you will develop their careers over time. If they can't see a future at your company, they won't apply.

Make the recruitment experience fun. Whether it's creating an attractive booth at a college career fair or inviting students to fun social events to learn about your workplace, make their experience exciting and memorable and they won't forget your organization.

Use your young professionals to connect and engage with students. Send your other young professionals on-campus and encourage them to connect and engage with students. Have them tell positive and compelling stories about their careers and experiences at your organization.

Engage them over time. Maintain communication with students, especially if you begin recruiting early. Send them emails, call them, and let them know you are interested in them, particularly the exceptional talent that is vetting offers with your competitors.

Develop relationships with key faculty and college career centers. They will recommend top students to you and suggest jobs at your organization to students. Select and target efforts at a few key colleges with quality programs applicable to your staffing needs.

Create a job shadowing experience. Allow students to job shadow and witness your day-to-day operations to help them understand the job and experience the work environment. Pull out the bells and whistles and "wow" them with your hospitality while they are with you.

Use internship programs. There's no easier way to hire a May grad than by converting one of your interns into a full-time hire. You get the benefit of testing their skills and experiences before making an investment.

Provide the right pay and benefits package. For many college grads, their final decision comes down to basics: the highest offer and best benefits. Make sure you know what other companies are paying new college graduates in your geographic area, otherwise you may end up making an offer that is unattractive to your candidates and all of your fantastic recruiting efforts could go to waste.

College recruitment provides the opportunity to acquire fresh talent with tons of potential. Every organization can and should take advantage of these strategies to land a great young hire. 

Additional Resources

Intern & Recent Graduate Pay Rates & Practices Survey This survey collects information from Northeast Ohio employers about their internship and recent graduate employment and pay practices - including intern pay rates and college graduate starting salaries. This survey provides important information for employers planning to hire interns or new graduates.

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To Pay or not to Pay Interns?

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It's that time of year again. Time to start thinking about hiring an intern to build your business' talent pipeline or support some special projects. As you start to begin the hiring process for an intern, you may be asking: should you pay or not pay the intern? If you do pay them, you may be wondering what should you pay interns to be competitive?

To Pay or Not to Pay Interns

Back in 2010, the Department of Labor released guidelines for internship programs under the Fair Labor Standards Act as well as a Test for Unpaid Interns. According to these guidelines, unless your intern meets all of these factors, e.g., the internship is mainly educational in nature and doesn't benefit the organization, they should be paid. As a result, we recommend playing it safe and paying your interns since most internships do not comply with all of these criteria. In fact, there have been a few recent cases where former interns have sued their companies over unpaid work.

Beyond legal consequences, however, from a talent attraction perspective, talented interns (especially in technical fields) can be in high demand. Paying them helps make the internship more attractive and eliminates a reason to not select your organization for an internship. With so many students seeking internships and a limited supply of technical talent, it's best to pay.

Plus, if your organization is using interns to grow a talent pipeline and has plans to hire the intern as a full-time employee following their internship, it's always a good idea to pay them. It shows that you are willing to make an investment in your intern and not trying to take advantage of their work.

What to Pay Interns

If an intern is considered an employee and is to be paid, you need to comply with minimum wage and overtime provisions when determining what to pay interns. Generally, however, interns are paid more than minimum wage. Compensation usually varies for interns based on their major, degree type, and role. Like employees, differences in pay rates usually stem from skill and labor demand. Across national and local pay studies of interns, here are a few general trends:

  • Engineering interns are one of the most highly paid types of interns, typically earning between $15.00-$18.00 per hour.
  • Information technology/computer science interns are also one of the highest paid types of interns, earning between $12.00-$17.50 per hour.
  • Accounting interns are paid higher generally than other types of interns and earn between $12.25-$15.00 per hour.
  • Research, general business, marketing, health, HR, communications, and social sciences interns, generally earn lower pay as interns, usually between $11.00-$15.00 as their skills are in less demand.

Don't forget that benefits are also part of interns' compensation. Close to one third of local employers do not offer any benefits to interns, but the widespread majority offer at least one perk. Interns are often offered these four benefits:

  • Paid time to attend the organization's social events or networking events
  • Rewards and recognition
  • On-site perks such as a cafeteria or fitness center
  • Training, development, and mentorship

Some organizations even offer interns paid holidays, credit towards benefits for time worked if hired after graduation, performance incentives, subsidized parking, and 401(K) - though these benefits generally aren't common.

Interns are a unique segment of the workforce and similar to employees, it's always a good practice to benchmark your pay rates, benefits, and employment practices for interns to see how they compare with other employers. Make sure you're paying fairly and competitively with other employers in the region. Otherwise, you could lose out on some exceptional young talent to your competitor next door.

View the Intern & Recent Graduate Pay Rates & Practices Survey

This survey reports data from Northeast Ohio employers about their internship and recent graduate employment and pay practices.

View the Results

Internships Growing in Northeast Ohio

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According to the results of the 2011 ERC/NOCHE Intern & Recent Grad Pay Rates & Practices Survey, more Northeast Ohio organizations are planning to grow or maintain internship programs compared to those planning to reduce or eliminate their interns.

Results from the 2009-2010 surveys, conducted annually by ERC in collaboration with the Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education (NOCHE), highlight a trend in the overall percentage of organizations that plan to increase their number of hired interns from 23% in 2009 to 35% in 2011.  In addition, survey results show a steady decline in the number of organizations who plan to reduce or eliminate their internship programs over the same period.

Organizations Planning to Make Modifications to Internship Programs

Results also show that an increased percentage of organizations find value in hiring interns to (among other cited reasons) develop a talent pipeline, assist with special project work, test potential employees before hiring them, obtain affordable workforce support, increase exposure at local colleges and universities, and to improve retention of new college graduates in Northeast Ohio.

View the Intern & Recent Graduate Pay Rates & Practices Survey

This survey reports data from Northeast Ohio employers about their internship and recent graduate employment and pay practices.

View the Results