Tips for Employers: Stay In Touch With Summer Interns Throughout the School Year :: Springboard Training

Tips for Employers: Stay In Touch With Summer Interns Throughout the School Year

SylviaH • November 30th, 2009 

Tips for Employers: Stay In Touch With Summer Interns Throughout the School Year
(c) Sylvia Henderson. All rights reserved.

You spend all that time and money bringing in and training your summer interns to be productive and to learn job skills for your specific organization and needs. Why end the relationship once the summer is over? Here are eight ways to maintain intern relations and stay in touch with summer interns throughout the school year.

  1. Use electronic communications. Send company news – especially “insider” news that is not confidential, yet not what is normally read in the daily paper – via e-newsletters (HTML formatted, like Constant Contact™) and instant messaging. Former interns continue feeling like part of the office and “on the inside” when they receive periodic updates on people with whom they worked.
  2. Establish social network channels unique to interns and your organization. Create social networking identities on the primary communities used by students. (At the time of this writing they include MySpace and FaceBook.) Encourage former interns to keep you updated with their progress, significant achievements, thoughts, questions, and other “goings-on” throughout the school year by posting to your community identities. Create a blog site for short entries of the same. Appoint a person who coordinated the interns when they worked with your organization to monitor the sites.
  3. Engage students in projects. When you have projects for which you want fresh ideas, invite former interns to contribute their ideas and suggestions to the projects. Offer pieces of projects as student assignments if students need to apply classroom learning to real-life situations.
  4. Coordinate with school counselors. If many of your interns hail from one or two schools, contact the school’s internship counselor or coordinator and find out what school projects or assignments are expected for the school year. Then offer a way to engage students in your organization while they are working on their assignments.
  5. Sponsor something. Students who take the initiative to serve as interns typically serve in a variety of roles in school during the year. Reach out and offer to sponsor an event, team, or promotional products for a school fair or rally. This shows your interns you support them in their extracurricular activities (as long as they are appropriate to your organizational brand) as well as puts your business logo in front of a large group of people…including parents.
  6. Hold intern reunions. Halfway into the school year – typically during the December holiday season – hold an intern reunion during the school break. This time is typically a time of celebration and both students and workplaces are in festive moods. Make the intern reunion required business-casual attire so that a sense of business still pervades students’ minds. Schedule a time for interns to give one-to-two-minute speeches about what they’ve done since serving as interns in your organization so that each gets a chance to “show their stuff” during the reunion.
  7. Create a student/employer partnership or mentorship program. Allow your employees to volunteer to partner with a student during the school year. They can serve as mentors, keeping in contact with an intern and helping the student through the maze of social and academic challenges sure to arise during the year.
  8. Invite interns to “mini-internships” during longer school breaks. The break between school semesters is sometimes two-to-four weeks long. Invite interns to return to a short internship during that period. Ramp-up time is minimal as they already know your organizational environment. There is almost always a small project that is put on the back burner due to more pressing work on a daily basis. Perhaps there is administrative or research work waiting to be done, yet never taken care of. Short projects that are labor-intensive yet finite are perfect “fillers” for one-to-two-week internships.

These tips will keep interns in sight and in mind for future employment possibilities. You get the chance to observe their growth and maturity during the year they are in school and out of your organization. You keep your organization in their minds as they are inundated with other offers and opportunities. You build goodwill on both sides (theirs and yours) and you have ready candidates, groomed to your needs, when they are ready for full-time employment. You can also fill short-term gaps with people you already know rather than interview strangers new to your organization.

Keep in touch with interns. They are a valuable resource for keeping your organization fresh and viable in a rapidly-changing world.