Summer is one of my favorite times of the year. Not only because of the amazing family time we share when my oldest daughter is home from college, but also because every summer it begins raining summer interns here at Pinnacle. Through the Pinnacle Summer Fellows program, we make it a priority to offer as many paid internships to deserving students as possible. This initiative has been incredibly rewarding for both our interns and Pinnacle over the years. In fact, several of our most successful associates started out as Pinnacle Summer Fellows.
One of my main goals with the Pinnacle Summer Fellows program is to make the intern experience truly valuable for the interns. Internships are often what sets recent college graduates apart from other job candidates as they seek to launch their new careers. They can be especially important for minority students who do not often have built-in connections that could help them find a job in their chosen field. In my experience, an internship is the best way to start forming essential networks that can benefit young professionals in many different ways and for many years.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, approximately 66% of interns receive a full-time offer and over 75% of those accept it. More importantly, after one year, over 66% of employees hired from an internship remain employed with the company. This is significantly higher than the 52% retention rate for interns from other companies. Even more striking, the one-year retention rate drops to only 46% for those with no internship experience.
From the company’s point of view, interns are beneficial because they create positive energy and excitement with their enthusiasm for the work and the opportunity. Interns are also a critical part of our talent strategy, as we create deep pipelines that can supply our company with exceptional candidates for years to come.
In celebration of my favorite time of the year, I want to offer some tips to both businesses and interns on how to make the most of the short months you have together.
1. Introduce Yourself to Everyone — Very often, the most valuable parts of your internships are the people you meet and the connections you make. In a few years, these may be the people you will be contacting for a job, professional reference, or career advice. Make sure that by the end of the summer you have several people that you could contact as a reference, mentor, or even sponsor.
2. Be Professional and Present — This pertains to clothes, behavior, punctuality, and more. This is a real job! Don’t ever let on that you wish you were doing something else this summer, like hanging by the pool with your friends. Stay off your phone and social media while at work. Remember, you’re here to lay the foundation for your future career.
3. Ask Questions — Learn as much about different jobs at the company as you can. Sometimes the tasks you might be given as an intern are not fun or are not related to what you think your career will be — that’s OK. Make sure that you spend your time there learning everything you can, so ask people about their jobs. Ask them what they do on a daily basis or what they did to prepare for that career. Find out what they like and dislike about their jobs. Figure out what skills you need to learn to be the most valuable employee in the future.
4. Work Hard and Be Positive — No matter what you’re working on, work hard and have a positive attitude. At a minimum, you will create a good impression which will benefit you this summer and for years to come.
1. Teach – You have a golden opportunity to teach enthusiastic young people — take advantage of it!
2. Ask Questions — This young generation likely knows more than you do about trends, social media, technology, etc. Ask them what they and their friends are into, what the best ways to reach their generation are, what industries they think their careers may be in, etc. You have a focus group of the next generation right there in your company, so make sure to use the time wisely to learn and improve your company and prepare for the future.
3. Make It Fun — One of the most “fun” activities you can give someone is a real, (slightly) important task. Most interns will be excited for a challenge and will be glad to have something they can put on their resume at the end of the summer. Give them a project or something tangible to work on so they can be proud of their work.
4. Get to Know Them — Too often, interns can be ignored because everyone knows they will only be there a short time. But it’s so important to get to know them, not only because it can benefit them and it’s good to pay it forward, but also because you never know when you might see them again. They could become an incredibly crucial future employee, or a future client or customer, or maybe even your future boss (crazier things have happened).
I’m a big believer in leaving a positive impression on everyone I interact with. I can’t guarantee that that I’m always successful, but I work hard to make everyone feel good. People never forget the way you make them feel. Ten years later, both interns and employers will likely have forgotten whatever tasks they performed or assigned, but both will always remember how they were treated. So, whether you are a fresh intern, employer, or staff member, make sure you make the most of your company’s summer internship program!