Intern Churn. Sure, it may sound like the gut-wrenching discomfort of eating too much cheese before bed (hey, we’ve all been there), but for a company trying to build a pipeline of skilled future talent, it’s far worse.
If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that great talent ain’t easy to come by – an issue that will likely persist in 2024 – so investing in interns is what smart, forward-thinking companies are doing to develop and gain loyalty among these young employees and ensure the future success of their organization. But that investment will fall short unless you’re mindfully and deliberately ensuring great experiences and first impressions for program participants.
Some businesses opt for a churn-out approach to their intern population – pulling them in, spitting them out, with limited support offered at each juncture – ultimately leading to intern burn-out (another byproduct that’s as uncomfortable as it sounds). Not only is this harmful to the intern, but it’s disadvantageous to the employer, negating the intent of the program: to entice high-potential students to return and grow their careers.
This leads us to a question we often hear from clients:
Is it possible to maintain a cost-effective structure for my intern program while providing a more comprehensive level of support?
Absolutely. The right support doesn’t have to come with a high price tag. It’s about allocating funds to the areas that are proven to enhance the intern transition and experience — ultimately increasing the success rate of your program.
With that, here are our Advisory Team’s top tips for preventing the dreaded Intern Churn and delivering a program that attracts and – most critically — retains the talent you need to ensure the long-term success of your organization:
Financial Housing Support, but Better
As the competition for top intern talent heats up – and as housing remains hard to access – more companies are willing to offer financial housing support for incoming interns. But this support goes further with a trusted Corporate Housing Partner. On top of managing short and long-term leases for interns, Corporate Housing Partners can also offer unique, outside-the-box solutions and support in highly competitive markets.
There’s an App for That.
According to a 2023 Weichert Corporate Housing and Weichert Workforce Mobility survey, 43% of companies expressed the need for an improved roommate-matching solution—a significant increase from 7% in 2022. In response, more companies are exploring the use of roommate-matching apps that encourage self-matching based on mutual lifestyle preferences, interests, and habits. This leads to healthier roommate relationships and deeper levels of intern success.
With housing challenges cited as the major challenge for interns and those who manage intern programs, some companies are getting creative, offering micro-internships at non-traditional times of the year. This has the double benefit of engaging intern candidates sooner and avoids the added burden of competing for a limited stock of temporary housing during peak intern season.
Cultivating Diverse, Inclusive Intern Programs
DEI is an important consideration for today’s young (and prospective) talent in selecting their employer of choice. Demonstrating that DE&I has been considered in your internship program is a big part of making a good impression upon incoming interns. Be open to experimenting with benefits, program duration and timing, and policy language to ensure that your intern opportunities are open to and supportive of a broad spectrum of candidates.
Go for the Gross-Up!
Companies are feeling the financial sting of the current economic climate, and so are students, particularly those on an intern income! More companies are willing to provide gross-up on taxable relocation benefits to help limit their financial burden. It’s a low-cost gesture that makes a big impact for someone on a limited budget!
It’s Your Duty to Care.
Show that you’re invested in intern well-being through constant, thorough, and proactive communication that begins well before the program start date. Hosting information nights or virtual briefing calls can go a long way toward easing anxieties, aligning expectations, and setting your interns up for success. To uphold your duty of care as an employer, this should include security briefings that share information about the surrounding area, local transportation, and emergency contact information.
When managed right, internships are a long-term strategy for getting the right people in the door. A positive “first impression” extends beyond the program and includes the overall experience. A customized intern mobility program will successfully balance costs while conveying the ideal image of the organization as an employer of choice.
Want to learn more about how to drive winning outcomes for your intern program? Talk to us!