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7 Employer Strategies to Avoid Intern Reneges and Losing Commits to Competitors

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Students reneging on internship offers is a growing problem for employers hosting structured internship programs around the country. If you simply Google “intern reneges” you’ll find hundreds of discussion boards, multiple “renege templates” and more than 100,000 pages and policies in the results. And as the job market becomes more competitive and job-seeking candidates have more opportunities, it will only get worse. In order to decrease reneges and avoid losing commits to competitors, employers should implement these seven strategies into their internship, co-op and rotational programs:

Put Your Interns' Needs First
If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything, it’s to prioritize your team’s mental and physical health. Make sure your interns know you care by catering to their individual needs. If they don’t feel comfortable coming into the office yet for safety precautions, allow them to work from home. If they’re more productive in the office and need the human interaction, give them that option as well. It’s important for your interns to feel safe, valued, and comfortable so they can do their best work and feel good while doing so. Plus, the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior, so if you treat your interns well during their program, they can expect to be treated well as an employee which should improve conversion rates.

Consider Your Employment Brand
Are your presenting yourself as a modern, progressive and forward-thinking company with meaningful work for your interns to accomplish? Or are you giving interns a binder with printed chores and to-do’s? We know this generation of students do everything on their phones and expect personalization. If your onboarding process and other HR technologies aren’t mobile-friendly, customizable and dynamic, or worse yet, are in old-fashioned binders and printed books it will make a bad first impression. Offer each intern a personalized on-boarding experience and present them with a mobile-first project management system like our Intern Management System.

Keep In Touch Pre-Internship
Even after the internship offer is accepted be sure to stay connected with your incoming cohort – no matter virtual, in-person or hybrid. Consistent, value-add communication is key to keeping interns engaged. Keep them updated on the company by sharing upcoming events, success stories, newsworthy changes, and even funny stories. Make them feel like a part of the team well before they start! If there are things you need them to complete before their start date, send them reminders and allow them to ask you questions so they feel more prepared and comfortable when they join your organization. Keeping them in the dark creates a disconnect and an opportunity for competitors to connect with your future interns and steal them away. Don’t let the time you spend apart actually separate and divide you; continue building that relationship! With the Intern Management System powered by GradLeaders, you can even ask them to answer custom profile questions to get to know them better. Or invite them to virtual conversations right within the platform. 

Make a Personal Connection with Each Intern
Get to know your interns on a personal level to learn their values and passions. If you take the time to build a relationship with your interns before they start their program, they’ll be even more excited to join your team and start working. Ask them about their friends and family, background, and interests. Then try to implement this into conversations and future event plans. Simply talking about their weekend plans or planning philanthropic services that are close to their heart will show them how much you care. For large companies or internship programs, this can be nearly impossible without the aid of technology but it's critical to your program.

Discover Their Workplace Personality
It’s also important to learn how your interns work best. Even if it’s their first work experience, how do they best learn in school? Do they prefer working in groups or studying alone in the library? Every individual is different which means they each need to be managed differently. Learn how they communicate, how they make decisions, what motivates them, and where their strengths and weaknesses lie. Understanding your intern will allow you to create an environment they’re excited to work in and do productive work. Unique and personalized strategies will also help your team effectively manage and communicate with interns prior to their start date. Then ensure that this information is recorded in a centralized place where program managers, hiring managers, mentors, etc. have access to it like our Intern Management System

Evaluate Their Skills, Work Experience AND Career Interests
Use your interview process to not only evaluate skills and previous work experience but also understand future career interests to know where they could be best utilized on your team. When presenting your offer to interns, make sure you know their career goals and future plans to be sure that you’re a good fit for each other long term. Help them see a future with your company by providing professional development and growth opportunities. This will show them that as they grow as a professional, you’re willing to honor their accomplishments with bonus’s, incentive plans, promotions, and new experiences.

Gather Feedback to Improve Your Intern Interview Process
No matter how many interviews you’ve done there’s always room for improvement. And there’s no better way to improve than to gather feedback on past interviews with interns. Send out a survey or host a 1-on-1 meetings to evaluate the effectiveness of your interview process. Ask all interns interviewed including those who weren’t offered a full-time position as well as those who didn’t accept a position. What did they like? What turned them off? Why did they accept other offers? This will not only inform you of the best aspects of your program, but also uncover areas that need to be improved in the future.


Have other tips to minimize or eliminate candidates that accept internship offers and then change their mind due to lack of feeling connected and important to the organization? Do you have concerns about the number of interns reneging within your company? Share them in the comments below or don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Our GradLeaders Recruiting and Intern Management System offer a significant number of solutions and integrated best practices to help you recruit interns, avoid intern reneges, manage interns both virtually or in-person, and improve your intern-to-full-time conversion rates. Contact us today!

Author

Ryan Pratt

13+ Years of Campus Recruitment, Experiential Learning and Career Services Industry Experience

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