Thinking of hiring interns this fall? Where to go, who to know to find great talent

Internships offer students valuable experiential learning opportunities and the chance to list real client work on their resumés. For
employers, they offer a fantastic, low-risk opportunity to ‘try out’ new talent for their organizations. Given that most employers today are seeking entry level hires with at least a couple of years of relevant work experience and solid references, internships have become an essential part of many students’ career preparation. We asked the experts at USF, UT, and HCC what employers can do to ensure they get the most valuable work from their interns, and in exchange provide their interns with useful projects, opportunities, and mentoring that will help them in their careers.

Dr. Ginger Clark, Vice President of Workforce Training at HCC, says “All students and all internships are not created equal, but there are specific steps that can be taken to ensure a positive outcome for everyone.”

For Dr. Clark, successful internship programs share three major elements:
1) Front-end planning around key stakeholder objectives
2) Establishing an assessment or evaluation metric that serves the needs of the student and employer
3) Agreeing upon a formal system of feedback that will inform continuous improvement in the overall internship program.

Dr. Cyndy Sanberg, Internship Director for USF’s Muma College of Business, says that today’s business school students head to college with a specific goal: getting a meaningful job upon graduation. “They still want and need the traditional parts of business programs, but they expect more when they sit down — or log into —classrooms. And they want internships to help them apply their newly learned skills,” she explains. Dr. Sanberg notes than more than half of the students surveyed in the recent Millennial Branding study said that access to paid internships and mentoring opportunities was very important to them. These students understand that their degree programs provide the training to do the job, but internships help them to develop real-world skills and mentors help make connections.

This is why USF is making a concerted effort to connect more employers with its students for internships. According to Dr. Sanberg, a 2015 study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that the focus of most corporate internship programs is to convert students into full-time, entry-level employees. With nearly 250 major employers responding, NACE found that more than 51 percent of interns became full-time employees. "Interns come in with new ideas and new solutions,” Dr. Sanberg says. “They can help with backlogged tasks — or tackle the jobs that employees WANT to start but never have time to begin.”

Internships also provide students with needed college credit, so it’s important for employers to reach out to the appropriate contacts at each institution to make sure the necessary approvals are obtained and prospective students can receive course credit. At the University of Tampa, for example, the internship approval process starts with completion of an Internship Request form (IRF), which is available online or via email. Once completed, the form is forwarded to the appropriate faculty members for credit approval and to increase the visibility of the opportunity among the student population. The approval process typically takes one week from the date that the IRF is returned for it to be processed and posted in HIRE-UT, the University of Tampa’s career management system.

Interested in learning more? These individuals can assist you:

Dr. Ginger Clark
Vice President, Workforce Training
Hillsborough Community College

Dr. Cyndy Sanberg
Internship Director Muma College of Business at USF /813.974.9033

Mark W. Colvenbach
Director, Office of Career Services
The University of Tampa

(re-posted from Tampa EDC newsletter)

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