The Not-So-Hidden Value of IT Interns: Page 2

Posted February 17, 2005

Eric Spiegel

Eric Spiegel

(Page 2 of 2)

First and foremost, you will be filling a need with an affordable, eager resource. You will not have to hire a full-time employee or a more expensive contractor for a short-term project.

If your intern has a positive experience, they can become a goodwill ambassador at their university. This is equivalent to free recruiting advertising dollars. The buzz on campus will attract the best candidates for future open positions.

My favorite statistic shows how interns are like making a long-term investment. This is because once interns are in the door, they are more likely to stay for the long haul. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, more than 80 percent of the employers who responded to the association's 2004 survey said they see higher retention rates among employees who previously interned at the company.

'How's That Homework Coming Along?'

So you see, this just might be a good idea after all. But there are still some measures you should take to make sure the intern has a valuable experience and will want to return as an employee if asked.

Always remember that interns are students and their studies are a top priority. This is especially true for interns working during a semester and not over the summer. Allow for flexible work hours based on their course schedule. Perhaps you can even find a project that enables them to work in the evening hours or on weekends.

During a semester, be prepared to limit their weekly hours to 15 or 20 tops. It never hurts to ask the intern how their studies are coming along and encourage them to ask you for help.

If you have the need, give strong consideration to hiring multiple interns. Hilliard says it helps if they have peers they can share their experience with.

"It is good for them to have relatable peers that aren't their parent's age who can share their struggles and successes," says Hilliard. "And it never hurts to create a little friendly competition."

Finally, if you have a large enough group of interns and recent college grads, it is also worthwhile to create social events such as ski trips or consider sponsoring a company softball team. These intangible benefits encourage interaction and team building; not to mention a darn good feeling that goes back to creating a positive buzz on campus.

A well-planned and executed intern program will make all that "extra" time and effort very much worth your while.

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