At Rigor, when we talk about building a Culture of Performance we mean both digital performance as well as “people” performance. Having great people who are aligned and inspired (or a lack thereof) can impact your digital properties and revenue as much as the insight from your digital performance tech stack.
We understand how important people are. It’s why we help our customers track and quantify performance wins, why our number one Core Value is #CustomerFirst, and why we focus so much on building a positive culture.
Because we’re committed to a Culture of Performance for our customers and ourselves, and because the Rigor Intern Class of Summer 2018 started this week (woohoo!), today we’re talking about the incredible competitive advantage of INTERNS!
Read below to learn why interns are an incredible asset to performance, the best strategies to attract top interns, and how to convert your amazing interns into full-time hires.
4 Reasons Interns are an Incredible Asset to Performance
1. The best talent
College students that are organized and motivated enough to apply for summer internships are already waaaay ahead of most! And those that can hang in an interview process — over the top! They are the best of the best.
2. On-the-job screening
If you could get a 3 month on-the-job trial for every employee, wouldn’t you want to?? YES! You will see their effort, coachability, work style and work product first-hand. Even the best interview process can’t showcase these qualities as effectively as a real work situation.
3. Get them early
If you provide a great experience, your interns will want to work for you full time! You get the best talent before they ever “go on the market.” You save on recruiting costs and you confidently add top talent that’s already trained months ahead of time.
4. Pipeline, pipeline, pipeline
Who has more friends, ahem, I mean a larger professional network, than college students? Your interns will tell their peers, families, and friends. Even without an official intern program, if you consistently bring on interns, you will have a pipeline of candidates for the future.
Now that we’ve established that interns are an amazing and critical component of a culture of performance, you’re probably wondering how to attract them. While we are still learning and refining every day, we’ve had success with the following 6 strategies.
6 Strategies To Attract Top Interns
1. Pay them!
Not only do you “get what you pay for” but offering paid internships means you get a wider pool of candidates. Unpaid internships mean only those who can afford no income for 3 months and who don’t need to save up spending or tuition money will apply. These could be great candidates but it’s a much smaller pool. If a paid internship is going to break the bank, time to review the budget (you may have bigger concerns)! In keeping with the Rigor Core Value of #UseResourcesWisely, paid interns are a great value and investment.
2. Give your interns meaningful work
We make sure our interns have some meaty projects. We set the expectation that some work will not be glamorous (our interns have assembled quite a few standing desks – thank you!) but we try to:
- (1) include a variety of projects
- (2) ask for their input to identify possible projects — fresh eyes!
- (3) allocate ~25% of time for projects they choose
I usually explain it like this: 75% of the work will be things that need to get done. The other 25% will have flexibility. We have a list of projects, including the items you identify, and you pick what interests you the most.
3. Be a great place to work
At Rigor, we pride ourselves on our culture and creating a positive and rewarding work environment. It starts with our Core Values, includes great benefits, and ultimately is about meaningful work. Yes, it definitely helps that we have 5-star Glassdoor reviews and Best Place To Work awards (#not-so-humble-brag), but even without those, you can explain why your work environment is great. Maybe you have flexible work hours, a senior team to learn from, amazing customers, or projects with cutting-edge technology. Include these in your job description to get them front and center!
4. Offer an official intern program.
Rigor has a secret intern weapon: Sarah Affleck, our Director of Sales Development, has been a passionate advocate and steward of interns from Day 1. She created an official curriculum for interns several years ago that provides additional education, 1:1 coaching, and peer support. When we talk about this program during interviews, candidates’ eyes light up! It means they can learn even more, we care enough to invest in them, and they will get a chance to build bonds with other interns.
If you don’t have a Sarah, it’s okay! You can still offer a meaningful intern program. A few ideas:
- Coffee dates with company execs
- Job shadowing opportunities
- Business-related training (we do hour-long “101” courses on Efficiency, Presentations, Customer Onsites, Interviewing, Project Management)
- Resume review & interview practice
- Interns present what they learned to the company in a 5 min presentation
5. Share the success of previous interns.
During the interview process, make sure you share the stories of interns who have been hired full-time and what they’re doing today. For example, at Rigor, we have top sales reps, engineers, marketers, and members of the leadership team who all started as interns. They established themselves early and advanced quickly. Even if they don’t stay with Rigor, we celebrate their career. For example, one of the first interns I worked with got a job at Google when she graduated. We love those stories too!
Bonus: Have former interns included in the interview process to both vet and woo candidates.
6. Post on college job boards.
Build relationships through alumni connections and/or with career centers of local schools. We often get referrals from career centers and students check an internal job board before public sites.
4 Ways To Convert Great Interns Into Full Time Hires
1. Show your appreciation
I personally love interns and I don’t know what we would do without them. Actually, I do know what we do without them because it happens during the school year, and there is a gaping hole in my heart (and many projects are left undone). Giving praise directly and company-wide for tasks big and small make a big impact! Make sure to acknowledge their work and tie it to company value and results.
2. Coach and educate them.
Many things that we grizzled veterans assume as common knowledge are uncharted territory for interns. Business basics like sending emails, calendar invites, using LinkedIn, and professionalism on social media are “low-hanging” training topics. Casual conversations to explain why things happen in businesses are very appreciated by interns and helps them be more successful.
One-on-one time with a manager, an official intern program, and/or ad-hoc training and mentoring are all great ways to educate and coach your mentors.
3. Offer a full-time role early.
If you have an amazing intern who is graduating within a year, give them a job offer asap! Make it easy on them and you by locking it down early. A promise of an offer is very different than signed paperwork. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that they start looking elsewhere. As they say, always be closing (on your intern offer letters).
4. Or help them find the right role.
If you don’t have the right role or they want something different than what your company offers (e.g. industry or company size), do your best to support them by writing recommendations or leveraging your network. Not only is it #DoingTheRightThing (another Rigor Core Value) but the business world is small and you never know when your paths will cross again. Your former intern may be a future customer, co-worker, or (gasp!) boss. Even if you don’t work with them, they may be a great source of future referrals.
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