As your beloved interns return to their Alma Maters to resume their studious classes by day and presumably their beer pong tournaments by night, don’t let your on-boarding efforts and rapport with these potential future new hires slip through your fingers.
Sure, interns are a dime-a-dozen, but ones who took the bull by the horns and really made an effort to contribute to your organization are potential future top performers. As a new hire after graduation, they’ll start their career with existing knowledge of internal processes, company policies and the corporate culture specific to your organization. Meaning, they’ll ramp up and prove more valuable than a new hire who didn’t intern for your company.
Though it’s imperative to maintain a relationship with star interns, don’t ignore the ones who turned out to be duds. Former interns (good and bad) have more access to young, smart and employable new graduates than you, as a recruiter, ever will. A positive review from one of their peers carries more weight than your spiffy career fair brochure. Intern Becky may have been more excited with her new “work wardrobe” than running reports for her boss. But, she’s also Social Chair for her sorority and whatever Becky says, goes (as far as Kappas are concerned!). If Intern Becky speaks glowingly of your organization, you might land a star intern in a younger pledge class down the road. Don’t risk damaging your reputation on campus as a good company for interns.
Develop a relationship marketing program to maintain lines of communication with former interns. Create an alumni page on Facebook where you can broadcast company achievements, company news and events to the group as a whole. For those interns who remain in close proximity to your organization, allow them to play on the company softball team, participate in the chili cook-off and invite them to the company picnic. Though there may not be funds to pay their way to a conference, explain they are more than welcome to come and pay their own way. Don’t let them feel excluded from your organization just because the summer came to an end and they’re back in school.
In addition to group communication, be sure to also communicate individually with top-performers via email. Let them know of recent openings that would fit their skill set and how to apply. Tell them when you’ll be in town for a campus career fair and arrange for a visit. Individual attention will make the intern feel special and personally selected for success for your organization. They’ll be more likely to accept an offer post-graduation.
Don’t sweat it if you’ve kept in touch and made recruitment efforts for former interns and they accept a full-time job with a competitor. They may find the grass wasn’t greener and apply at your company later. They’ll still enter your organization with the previous knowledge gleaned from their internship and will ramp up faster than their co-workers.