Over the years, we’ve asked successful students what were the important factors in deciding what internship to choose. Here’s some insights from our Summer of Tech founder, John Clegg, a selection of things that we find are often overlooked by employers:
1) Talk about training & mentoring
Students want to understand how they are going to learn all the new things. We have seen some candidates reject offers from great employers because they said another employer offered better training. The reality was those employers did have established training and on-boarding programs that were equivalent. But they didn’t explain their training programs well enough during the recruitment process.
Be clear what training the student is going to get when they start and who will mentor them. During the recruitment phase, explain your on-boarding and training process. Also, make sure that their mentor(s) are involved in the recruitment process so that the candidate will understand who they will be working with and get to interact with them.
2) Student word of mouth
Student word of mouth is really powerful. We have seen both positive and negative effects of word of mouth from previous interns effect the next batch of interns. Students talk to each other about employers.
If you have recent interns or graduates, use them to help make the recruitment more relatable for students. If they can see where one of their peers is at, it’s an easy leap to see that they can achieve that level of success too.
3) Future employment opportunities
Students have a lot more financial commitments to manage now. Student loans, higher rents etc. They need to ensure that they have financial security.
We’ve seen several candidates turn down better job opportunities because the employer was not able to officially say that there is an opportunity to get “on hired” after the internship. I’ve had conversations with students on offers day where they have said no to roles that were more suited to them because they had nothing in writing to say there was a future opportunity. I tried to explain to the student that the employer had one of the best on-hire records of any employer. But they wanted it in writing, and thus said no.
If there is any chance you can provide the student more certainty of a future opportunity, do it. You need to set the expectations, i.e. the candidate does well then there will be an opportunity.
4) Treat your “Nos” as good as your “Yeses”
The recruitment process is really stressful on the students. For many it’s first time they have been through a formal recruitment process for a professional role. During this time, the majority of the queries we receive are from students who don’t know if they are still being considered by an employer. The “not knowing” is really tough.
If they apply for a role, you can see that they’re interested. Because SoT isn’t a formal application process, there’s no expectation on you to respond to all of these people.
When you shortlist them, they will see that they’re being considered for a role, which is super exciting for them!! It’s a cue to start hoping for an interview, doing some research, and getting a little bit excited! If you’re not progressing their application after shortlisting them, it would be great if you can let them know. Even greater if you can give them some feedback about why, especially things that they can do to meet your standard or your needs, so that they can work on some areas for next year.
We’d really appreciate it if you communicate to all of the candidates that you interview. Please let the unsuccessful ones know as early as possible. It’s a great way to reinforce your brand as being professional and that you really care about your candidates. Who knows, in a year or 2 or 5 or 10, you might be back in touch!
More tips for attracting the best interns are here, and some tips on managing shortlists are here.