Cultivate your next star: Turn interns into employees

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Your next young gun could be the kid licking envelopes in the corner. The only trouble is, she’s licking envelopes in the corner.

If your internship program is run primarily as a source of cheap (read free) labour you may be saving yourself a few bucks in wages, but at the same time you might be overlooking a great opportunity: interns can turn into an incredible resource when properly cultivated.

According to US-based HR trainer Karla Palmer, how interns are treated during an internship can be the difference between quickly and easily taking on a quality graduate after they’ve finished their studies, and having to sink unnecessary money into grad recruitment. “Why not make the most out of your company’s intern­ship pro­gram and use it as an oppor­tu­nity to find your next star?” she asked.

Reach out early

With good reason, pro­fes­sional sports teams often begin scout­ing high school stu­dents. They want to secure the next Kieran Perkins or Cathy Freeman before the competition. It should be the same for HR, but it often isn’t. Even if they don’t intend to hire them right away, sports teams make themselves aware of future poten­tial.

If a qual­i­fied high school or university stu­dent has an inter­est in the type of busi­ness you run, why not have him or her come in once or twice a week and learn about what goes on in the com­pany? Reach­ing out early will give you the oppor­tu­nity to really develop your interns. By the time they grad­u­ate, you will know how to best utilize them as an employee.

Cul­ti­vate relationships

It’s widely accepted that a com­pany is only as suc­cess­ful as the employ­ees who work for it. Build­ing rela­tion­ships with your interns will help make them feel vested in the com­pany. Make an effort to speak with interns and lis­ten to what they have to say. Ask for their ideas on the work that’s being done. Assign them real tasks so you can see what they are capa­ble of. Give interns a chance to work on projects that excite them, such as social media imple­men­ta­tion. The more that you put into your interns, the bet­ter suited they will be for employment.

Page two: Interns as brand ambassadors


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