Looking for Talent? Go to School

“That’s a Moray, Alex’s notes from the sea,” is the name of my cousins’ kid’s, blog.

Alexander works for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. “It’s the job of my dreams, Online Coding Classes for Kids” he told me. A position he took after interning, then graduating last month from the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering. A school, The Princeton Review’s editors call, “small, innovative, and populated with bright go-getter engineers,” and say the college “may well be the most dynamic undergraduate institution in the country.”

But enough about my cousin.

Some of the brightest, most talented people for your company’s current and future workforce could be right in your own backyard. I’m talking about students at local or area universities and colleges–even vocational, tech, junior and community colleges. There are also kids from your area who go to school somewhere else, come home for the summer, but when they graduate, want to return home and work. rozbawieni

Russ Gaitskill, President of multichannel merchant, Garnet Hill, located in the beautiful but remote White Mountains of New Hampshire, has had a successful college internship program for over 6 years. They hire 7 to10 summer interns and 2or 3 during the year. “A number of those interns are now working for us full time and are doing a solid job in merchandising, marketing and creative,” Russ told me. drommabed

Internships opportunities at Garnet Hill are paid, last 6-16 weeks, and are advertised on Garnet Hill’s website, as well as in local newspapers. They’re also promoted through relationships the company has with local and area colleges and universities and referrals from other students.

“Our priority is kids who are from the area. Interns are from universities in Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, as well as schools like Parsons in New York, and the Rhode School of Design (RISD).” “And I get to interview them all,” Gaitskill says. Anime

Steve Rothberg, CEO of CollegeRecruiter.com, in an article in Workforce Management Online, is quoted as saying that many companies who don’t yet understand the strategic value that Gen Yers play in the labor force could suffer talent shortages in the future. This group of individuals is a critical source of workforce inventory–the batch of interns recruited this season can be harvested for entry-level positions next year.

“Companies need to think of interns not only as a source of educated yet inexpensive labor, but also as the next wave of leaders,” Rothberg says. There are about 4 million U.S. college students, of whom 1.5 million to 1.75 million are in their junior or senior year–the prime years for internship recruitment.

The desired conversion rate from internships to full-time hires is 50 percent, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, a Bethlehem, Pennsylvania-based information resource organization on the employment of the college-educated. In 2004, NACE members reported a 45 percent conversion rate and a 35 percent rate in 2005. Top Suomi Kasinot
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Reaching Gen Yers and generating buzz.

The good news is that there are far more students available than the number of internship openings. The bad news, however, is that the batch of high-potential candidates–those who rank high in their class or attend a brand-name college–is small, and the competition for them is fierce.

“The medium is the message and if you don’t use the appropriate tools to reach this finicky audience you could be in for some big trouble,” adds Brian Krueger, president of CollegeGrad.com, in the same article in Workforce Management Online.

“Students will be hesitant to work for a company that they think is out of sync with them or with the times,” he says. Employers that have a weak Internet presence are particularly susceptible to being overlooked or, even worse, snubbed by this segment.

A recent survey from CollegeGrad.com underscores just how important the Internet is for students looking to get their first job. The report, which polled 500 respondents, highlights that the Internet is by far the most widely used job search tool. Some 60 percent of the respondents say it was the best source to get information on entry-level jobs.

Job fairs ranked second, with almost 20 percent of survey participants noting it was the best source for finding out career information. College career centers and classmates ranked third and fourth, respectively.

Creating a positive experience.

Recruiting qualified talent is just one part of the equation in creating a successful internship program. “If you’re going to recruit at the same colleges next spring, you better make sure that the interns this year have a positive experience,” says workforce consultant and author Sylvia Henderson, in the same article.

“Word will spread around campus about the type of employer that you are–good or bad.” So apply the same sound workforce management practices that full-time employees receive.

“Put yourself in their shoes,” she says. “Treat them the way you would like to be treated”
Give interns responsibilities that are meaningful. Fetching coffee and making copies won’t be yielding a satisfactory experience. And be prepared to offer interns constructive feedback, both positive and negative.

 

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