You’ve likely seen the articles on LinkedIn (here is one of our favorite) or the recent segment on the Today Show about how parents can help their kids prepare for life after college. Internships have always been a great way for eager college students to get real work experience and employers to gain a fresh perspective. Parents are thinking about how their child can get the most out of their college years, college students are thinking about their futures, and employers are thinking about how to attract and prepare millennials for the workforce.
One of my passions is teaching, mentoring, and working with college graduates. I am honored to be an advisory member on two business school boards, Cal Poly and UW Bothell, where we talk a lot about how to prepare students for the real world and how to prepare them to thrive in business after college. Internships always seems to be the topic of discussion, and it’s no surprise that more and more companies have formal internship programs where high impact work is expected from interns. Also, this is becoming the way many employers are hiring which makes these coveted internship positions so valuable to students.
This summer, we will be welcoming several interns to the Simplicity office in Kirkland, WA. They will help us define our lead generation program and will also have the opportunity for professional mentoring from our experienced marketing consultants who are actively working with clients.
Benefits for Students
For college students, internships are an extended audition for a full time job. They are auditioning for the employer, but the employer is also auditioning for them. Students are looking for culture fit as well as determining whether the position they are filling is something they want to continue to pursue. Company culture is a huge factor for millennials, and this audition period gives them the opportunity to get a feel for the culture and decide if it is somewhere they want to work on a fulltime, permanent basis. As college students navigate new waters, internships enable them to explore different career paths and companies on a short term basis.
The real life experience of an internship should not be overlooked. Whether the student decides that the company or job is right for them (or not), they have gained invaluable learnings. The work that was completed during the internship has the potential to be a highly valued resume builder, and provides them with the outside-the-classroom experience needed to land their first post-college job.
Benefits for Employers
In Jeffrey Selingo’s book, There is Life After College: What Parents and Students Should Know About Navigating School to Prepare for the Jobs of Tomorrow, he says that employers hire about 50% of the college interns that worked for them before they graduated. With a “try before you buy” option, companies get to decide whether the student was a cultural and skill fit before officially offering them a position.
Today, companies do not want to be the first full-time employer of new college graduate…. It’s “risky”. They are looking for talent that has proven experience, whether through work or an internship, which means the race is on for college students to land their next big internship.
For students, internships have the potential to help shape their careers, and for companies, internships help them find and keep the brightest talent out there. It’s truly a win-win for everyone!