College students want an impactful, relevant work experience. Even in the short amount of time that they are interns, they want to be able to make an impact in some way on a project, product, service, customer, or organization.

Yes, it is spring. And, spring reminds me of those college days when I was studying for finals and making plans for the summer. I hate to say this, but internships were not on my mind, especially since they were not as prevalent then (no, I am not going to tell you my age).  shutterstock_304733333

Well, these days many college students are in the process of frantically finding an internship program that will help them prepare for their future careers and hopefully provide them with some money.

The Students’ Perspective

But, what do college students really want to get out of an internship program?  In my research experience, college students are very serious about internship programs and what they would like to get out of those programs.  And, how can employers find out if their internship program is as effective as it could be?

Here are a few of my general learnings conducting research among college students, across a variety of subject majors.

Impact: College students want an impactful, relevant work experience. Even in the short amount of time that they are interns, they want to be able to make an impact in some way on a project, product, service, customer, or organization. They want to be able to learn what it takes to pursue their career and for that to happen, the internship responsibilities should include some sort of meaningful work related to their careers.

Connection: Students want to meet with others in their field, especially leaders, so that their learning can be facilitated and they can find career mentors.

Learning: Students want to learn about the organization and its culture. They want to see if they are aligned with the culture, values, and position. They also want to learn about the development and training programs that are available.

The Job: Of course, they want a permanent job. However, based on their experience and the organizations’ plans and assessment, that may or may not occur.

The Organizations’ Perspective

I believe that organizations that take the time and resources to establish an internship program want to achieve a high intern-to-employee conversion rate. In order to improve that ratio, organizations need to seek feedback from their college interns on the internship and the recruitment/selection experience and evaluate their own internship practices so that they can make the appropriate changes to the program.

One organization, Tofaş Turk Otomobil Fabrikasi, a car manufacturer from Turkey, received a Brandon Hall Group Silver Excellence Award for its intern sourcing and assessment program, which was very effective at measuring interns’ satisfaction levels with the internship program, the interviewing process, and the orientation program. One of the lessons learned from their evaluation was to move-up the selection process earlier in the calendar year.

Getting feedback on your internship program and your hiring and selection process is critical to ensure high-performance in internship programs. As a matter of fact, feedback, whether it is among new hires, graduates, students, or candidates, is always critical to your organization’s overall talent acquisition success.

Now, let’s all spring forward into best practices for talent acquisition!

Daria Friedman, Principal Analyst, Talent Acquisition, Brandon Hall Group

Daria Friedman

Daria Friedman is the Principal Analyst overseeing the talent acquisition practice for Brandon Hall Group. Prior to Brandon Hall, Daria led the research practice for Bernard Hodes Group, a recruitment solutions agency, and Findly, a talent acquisition software service provider. Daria’s focus is on conducting talent acquisition research on topics such as candidate experience, employer value proposition validation, onboarding, candidate experience, retention, internal communications, career site messaging, talent pool assessments/supply and demand, employee engagement, campus/graduate recruitment, brand perceptions/positioning, best practices, diversity, market/competitive dynamics, talent acquisition metrics, source-of-hire/job search dynamics, employer preferences, employee benefits, technology purchase preferences, and more. She has produced many thought-leading and award-winning research studies at Hodes, including: Healthcare Talent Metrics, The Growing Value of Employer Brands, RNs at Risk, The Collegiate Career Mindset, The Employment Conversation - How Employers and Talent Meet on the Social Web, and Playing for Keeps/Recruiting for Retention. Daria developed Industry Matters, a monthly newsletter that provides insight on the talent landscape from both an economic and talent acquisition trend perspective. She has conducted research globally across many industries, such as Healthcare, Technology, Insurance, Finance, Hospitality, Telecommunications, Defense, Law Enforcement, and Retail. Daria is skilled in quantitative, qualitative and secondary research methodologies. Daria has an MBA in Marketing from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a BA in French from Montclair State University.