Whether your company hired summer interns or not, understanding the benefits of an intern program and the differences of Generation Z could be crucial to hiring. This month, we focused on intern engagement and Gen Z to give you insight into best practices and how these employees are transforming the recruiting pipeline.
Summer is the high season for interns, so corporate environments everywhere often look a little younger. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), estimates of the total number of interns range from one to two million - but this is only a guess, since so many businesses don’t document unpaid interns.
The explosion of internships gets a deservedly bad rap as a frequently unfair channel for free or cheap labor. But if handled thoughtfully by both sides as a structured mentoring experience providing opportunities for meaningful work, internships can be a mutually beneficial tool for businesses and students alike.
In the best of worlds, companies are able to lay the seeds for millennial recruitment by developing relationships with future job seekers, while also creating brand ambassadors that can spread the positive word about their organizations to other employee prospects. And mentoring an intern can serve as a novel form of community outreach that’s uniquely rewarding for existing employees.
The scramble for talent in today’s tight labor market is reaching recent college graduates. And although organizations are exploring innovative strategies to attract these workers, they have to be ready to offer these benefits and work solutions to compete, consultants say.
“Employers will need to work harder than ever before to attract and more importantly retain” millennial workers and even Generation Z employees (born in the mid-1990s to early 2000s), Nicholas Wyman, CEO of the Institute for Workplace Skills and Innovation, told Bloomberg BNA via email May 31.
In a survey of 100 HR professionals, 78 percent reported they are targeting millennial workers in their recruitment efforts, and another 56 percent said they actively try to attract Gen Z workers, Andrew Challenger, vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, told Bloomberg BNA May 30. One benefit that is at the forefront of HR’s plans to recruit younger workers is student loan assistance, Challenger said.
This year a new generation just started entering the workforce. Generation Z, those born since 1995 are now beginning to graduate from college. Recruitment and hiring will certainly be changing as 23 million Gen Zers takes their place in organizations alongside 71 million older Millennials who range from about 25 to 40 years old.
Is there much difference between the two? You bet. That’s why you’ll need to be making some changes in how you recruit on college campuses and how you engage with today’s students.
What may be most intriguing, even ironic, is that in some ways, Gen Z seems to share more traits with much older Baby Boomers (born between 1945 and 1960) than other generations.
Although Gen Z knows no other world besides one where we’re all surrounded with technology, and prefer imagery and video in sharing stories more than by text or email, today’s young people actually appreciate face-to-face contact, a characteristic shared with Baby Boomers, who grew up in a world without email or smartphones.
As this year’s set of college graduates enters the job market, new research shows younger employees are thinking earlier about work prospects and also considering how advanced technologies could affect their prospective employment.
A study by Accenture Strategy found that two-thirds of 2017’s college graduates welcome artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies, believing they will enhance rather than threaten their work experience. Additionally, 78 percent of America’s newest grads believe their schools prepared them for today’s digital workforce.
That study, which focused on Generation Z job seekers — defined as students born between 1993 and 1999 — also found that for the first time in years, the number of graduates wanting to work for large companies increased, said Katherine LaVelle, a Washington, D.C.-based managing director of Accenture Strategy and an author of the report. A full 88 percent of the Gen Z graduates took the number of jobs available in their field into account before choosing a college major, a significant jump from the rate in the recent past, LaVelle said. A relatively high 75 percent of the Gen Z grads are willing to relocate to another state for the right job, and an also high 62 percent expect to stay at their first job for three years or more, she said.
Figuring out how to run a legal and mutually beneficial internship program for young adults looking to enter the workforce can be challenging.
Congrats! Reaching a point in business where you are able to develop an intern program is a momentous accomplishment. You’re playing an important role in training the next generation for workforce excellence, and that should be celebrated. But, once the initial excitement levels out, it’s time to get cracking on the logistics, goals and resources needed to drive a successful program.
Intern season can be an extremely busy time for small businesses and startups that don’t always have the resources to build Facebook-type programs. It’s a great opportunity for small businesses to have access to energetic and less expensive workers who can help tackle the many odds and ends of running a business. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that youth (ages 16 to 24) employment rates jumped about 12 percent last summer with a total of 53 percent of youths entering the workforce. That said, figuring out how to run a legal and mutually beneficial internship program for young adults looking to enter the workforce can be challenging.
The use of interns with international experience will alter your company in a powerful way; both culturally and geographically.
Interns will give you fresh perspectives and alternate thinking to your organization. Those that have studied abroad are by nature more global in their viewpoint. Those who have work experience abroad have not only that global viewpoint, however they are: more risk adverse; more entrepreneurial; and will impact your company in a different way. Many successful businesses give their interns the ability to grow and see cultural changes that are very significant. It may seem unbelievable, however 20 of our most successful leaders like Bill Gates, Elon Musk and other started out as interns.
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Shannon Smedstad (@shannonsmedstad) is a Principal Employer Brand Strategist for exaqueo, an employer brand experience firm building employer brands and the talent strategies that drive them through research, consulting and creative and digital execution. Contact exaqueo to learn more about our employer brand innovation, workforce research and recruiting strategy offerings.