The Hidden (And Not So Hidden) Hurdles of Intern Housing 03.17.2022 | Jennifer Connell

As the battle for talent rages on, organizations are now, more than ever, leaning upon the next generation to help fuel their pipeline. This means that intern programs are getting a serious makeover as talent management leverages them as a strategic tool to attract the best and brightest college students and graduates from across the country and the world.

Traditionally, when interns are required to relocate to a new location as part of an internship program, companies have covered the costs associated with the temporary move. A lump sum was provided to cover a portion – if not all – of the associated costs, with shared accommodations options being the most common housing offering for intern cohorts.

A lot has changed in the past two years, shifting the way companies structure their intern programs moving forward. In our recent survey, we partnered with Weichert Corporate Housing to define some of these new trends in the space of intern mobility – here are a few things we learned:
  • 56% of participants expect that internship volumes will increase in 2022.
  • While the majority of internships remain under four months in duration, results indicate that internship timeframes are increasing.
  • 93% of respondents leverage their internships to develop a pool of critically skilled candidates, however, nearly a third of organizations have difficulty transitioning interns to a permanent position upon program completion.
  • More than half (57%) of companies indicate that inadequate housing supply is their biggest challenge in facilitating intern programs.
The Intern Housing Hurdle

One thing that hasn’t changed? The challenge of intern housing. Consistent with our survey from six years ago, two of the top three hurdles cited are related to accommodations for interns.

Housing or temporary accommodations is the largest category of spend in most internship programs. It is a crucial consideration for interns (and often their parents) in deciding whether to accept an internship. Housing is also a vital component of your interns’ safety and well-being – duty of care, if you will – so housing options should reflect this.

Here are a few hot stats from our survey revealing how companies are housing their interns right now:

  • 50% of companies provide a lump sum or per diem for interns to source their own housing.
  • For those offering housing, nearly half provide either off-campus housing or corporate-leased units.
  • 39% admit to lacking knowledge about appropriate housing options.
  • Over a quarter of respondents expressed the need for a roommate matching service to help alleviate the challenge of shared accommodation arrangements.

Since intern demographics are considerably different from the rest of the workforce, shared accommodations are generally encouraged (or required), but it is critical that companies have a formal system in place to ensure that roommates are matched in an inclusive manner. As a best practice, shared accommodations should contain separate bedroom and bathroom facilities for each person, and keep in mind that most tenants prefer to be placed with the same gender. To ensure that the organization respects all individuals and demonstrates their commitment to diversity and inclusion, all interns should complete a roommate profile to better understand their preferences.

Where and how you house your interns can have a direct impact upon the intern experience and ultimately the reputation of your program. Go here to learn more about the benefits of partnering with a Corporate Housing Provider to help navigate the complexities around providing safe, appropriate, cost-effective accommodations for your interns, particularly in urban areas with tight housing supplies.

Currently, housing provisions differ considerably between industries, companies, and occasionally even among the different internship programs offered by the same organization. Sometimes the total cost of housing is covered, or interns are required to contribute to the cost of their accommodations. Sometimes housing options are sourced, and in other cases, interns are left to find accommodations within their allotted allowance.

As more companies tap into the critical value of internships programs to organizational sustainability, we expect to see more consistent trends emerge across industries and internship programs. And as internship packages become more robust to stack up against the competition for candidates, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a “battle of the benefits” emerge; experiential welcome gifts, free lunches…matching intern tracksuits? If you’re ready to get creative and attract your organization’s future leaders, invest the time into learning what interns really want and make sure your intern program measures up.

Here’s a great place to start: request to see the full results of our Interns & Mobility Survey to tap into the latest internship trends and the mobility provisions necessary to land tomorrow’s interns.

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Written by Jennifer Connell


Jennifer Connell, SCRP, SGMS-T, is Vice President of Weichert’s Advisory Services group. She has over 25 years of experience in the workforce mobility and employee benefits industries and is a recipient of Worldwide ERC’s Distinguished Service Award. She has spoken on workforce mobility topics at industry conferences throughout North America and written for mobility- and HR-themed blogs and magazines worldwide.

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