By Cora Palumbo
Finding the right candidate for a role can be challenging. Someone who fits in with the team produces quality deliverables and furthers organizational objectives is a tall order to achieve based on resumes, cover letters and interviews alone.
Hiring and working with student interns is a great opportunity for organizations to discover new talent based on work performance and overall fit within the team. The implications of COVID-19 changed the way businesses operate and communicate, so it is worth reflecting on the overall strategy your organization takes when working with students.
Here are a few considerations to help you maximize the internship experience for you, your student, and your organization:
A fresh perspective
With a combination of both academic and professional approaches, your student is in a peak learning environment to gain meaningful skills in the field during an internship.
Having a fresh understanding of communication theories and keen research skills, an intern may be exactly what your business needs to look for new areas of opportunity. For example, student-interns (especially communications students), tend to consume their news via several social media channels and stay current on social issues.
Interns can often be your guide to understanding what could be red-flagged by your stakeholders when posting any communication. Many current students tend to fall in the generation raised with social media. With a robust knowledge of different platforms, a student intern can help identify influencers that target key messaging that aligns well with your brand.
Social media users account for 84.9 per cent of the total Canadian population as of January 2021. In many communication degrees across Canada, social media is becoming an integral part of the curriculum—making your student the expert guide. Invite your student to participate in meetings and provide feedback when appropriate. It is particularly helpful to encourage students to use research to ground their arguments, then present them to their leadership.
Mentorship and networking
Feedback is an important aspect of growth, and it is an integral part of your student’s professional development. Mentorship is also an opportunity for your team to grow their leadership skills and build a connection with a future peer that will grow within the industry.
For students, an internship is a way for them to connect with new people and grow their network in a professional capacity. By mentoring them, you can introduce them to your network knowing exactly what they are capable of and who would be interested in meeting them.
Building skill sets and saving recruitment costs
Students are also eager to grow their portfolios and skillsets. These takeaways are what they will share with their institution and peers, providing your organization with an opportunity to establish a relationship with the college or university. Building this relationship can help cut down on recruitment costs and will help you sign on an employee that already understands the organization and the type of work.
The selection process for your intern is significant. Finding a student that you can see thriving in your organization’s culture and strategic approach is going to set the tone for the internship. A student intern will take pride in their first big project, especially if they intend to use it as a portfolio piece. Although not every project is big, having exposure to different opportunities will keep them engaged and offer a sense of pride in working with a team to apply while growing their skillset.
Through COVID-19, use templates, screen-sharing and virtual meetings to help build your professional relationship and a base of knowledge with your student. Having a student intern is an added responsibility but ultimately can be very rewarding for both the business and the student intern.