Why should you stay in touch with your interns after the internship?
The fall internship season is coming to an end, but your relationship with your interns may be just getting started. Your interns have the potential to go on to become leaders within your company, like the CEOs of Xerox and Dreamworks, who started off as interns. Understanding why and how to keep in communication with your interns can add long-term value to your organization.
Adopt these steps to understand how to stay connected with your interns post-internship.
Step 1: Keep Everything Authentic and Personal
Create a connection with the interns from Day 1 by making an effort to get to know them on a personal level. Develop lines of connection for them to ask any and all questions, talk to you like a human being, and share fun things outside of just work talk. In essence, create a positive internship experience that will make your interns want to come back.
Step 2: Collect Contact Information
It's crucial to make sure you have the correct contact information before your intern leaves so you can continue engaging with them. While your former intern’s corporate email may remain active, they are unlikely to check it frequently. Therefore, ensure you have a forward-email address to send all future communications and a mailing address to send swag and holiday cards. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to connect on LinkedIn.
Step 3: Select Engaging Communication Tactics
Picking an ideal mode of communication is critical to continuing the conversation with your former interns. Platforms like Symba, LinkedIn Groups, and Slack all offer their own unique benefits. While email blasts are relatively simple, they make it more difficult to form a sense of community and personalization. Symba, on the other hand, empowers you to connect with your alumni directly on our platform. When your interns leave, you can activate several “Alumni Features'' to help continue the conversation. In addition, setting up an intern alumni channel in Slack or creating a LinkedIn group allows each cohort to check in with each other and your organization after the internship.
Step 4: Establish a Strong and Consistent Cadence
No matter what mode of communication you have selected, it is imperative that your former interns understand the benefits of staying in contact with your company. An effective communication cadence can help leaders properly convey consistent and accurate messaging around their company, which helps to build trust with interns. Former interns who receive clear and concise communication from leaders can continue being part of important company conversations.
Companies like General Motors opt to send out a monthly newsletter to their current and former interns. At LinkedIn, they invite former interns to answer questions during a live webinar. Foundation Medicine stays in touch with interns on LinkedIn and also sends weekly Friday emails to ensure interns don't forget about the company as they go through their studies.
Other notable organizations host quarterly speaker series, networking opportunities, and resume workshops. There is no standard approach to how you should contact your alumni interns, only that the communication be consistent and that the intern derives value from staying in touch.
Step 5: Nurture Your Top Candidates
The largest driving factor behind internships is recruiting, so now is the time to determine which alumni interns you want to hire full time in the future. Some Fortune 500 companies even retain over 80% of their interns as entry-level hires. Reach out to those high-performing interns and express your gratitude for their efforts over the summer. Ask if they would be interested in joining your company full time, and make sure they know that you're ready to answer any questions they may have. It is important to introduce the idea to your intern rather than abruptly offering them a job. By focusing on relationship building, your alumni are far more likely to join the company in the future.
Step 6: Celebrate Interns Receiving Full-Time Offers
For those interns who have accepted your job offer, make sure you keep in touch with them and strengthen their enthusiasm about joining the team. You can accomplish this by offering opportunities to work on short-term paid projects or hosting service events where new hires can volunteer alongside full-time employees. To ensure your future employees are prepared for their new job, invite them to coffee or lunch when company representatives visit their universities. These efforts will strengthen the relationship between you and your former interns, adding value over time.
Step 7: Send Gifts and Swag
If your budget allows it, send gifts to your former interns (especially during their finals)! When they finally complete their studies, these interns will have your company at the front of their minds as they embark on a job search. Whenever opportunities arise in your company, they can be the first at the door since they know the company well and have experienced appreciation from the brand. And if there are some best-performing interns to whom you can make offers right away, do so, as this reduces both your time-to-hire and recruitment costs.
Reasons for Staying Connected with Interns Post-Internship
1. Recruitment and Retention
The goal of many internship programs is to recruit your next full-time hires from a vetted talent pool. If you stay in touch with past interns, you are far more likely to bring them on as full-time hires in the future. You can take note of their graduation date to reach out when they are ready to enter the job market for full-time opportunities and stay on top of mind for them.
If your company is struggling with turnover rates, hiring interns to full-time roles can help stop the bleeding. Did you know interns get retained and promoted at a higher rate than off-the-street hires?. This higher retention and promotion rate can increase leadership buy-in for your early talent program, helping you sustain the program long-term and scale your talent pipeline.
2. Strengthen Your Company Brand
Former interns are the ones who tend to write company reviews on popular websites like Glassdoor, helping boost the company’s brand and visibility. Your intern alumni will most likely speak about their experience working with your company and have the potential to elevate your organization’s brand. Keeping in contact and continuing to nurture your interns after a program ends can help ensure they remain positive about the company and share the good experiences you provided them.
When it comes to branding, it is also advisable to be forthright with your interns from the get-go. For instance, if your company does not give offers on the day they leave, state this clearly to your students so they perceive you as transparent and honest. In the era of social media and viral posts, ensuring you maintain an excellent reputation with your interns enables you to attract future prospects and keep your talent pipeline well-oiled.
3. Reinforce Company Culture
Internships are a great way to boost your company’s culture and bring teams together. Your hiring managers can become great mentors for your interns and further develop their own leadership skills. Many great companies encourage hiring managers to keep in touch with their interns afterwards through virtual coffee chats and emails to see how they are doing. Simple, personal actions like these can help keep your company at the top of the minds of your former interns. Your company will reap the dividends of its early talent program down the road as competition for top talent becomes intense.
Getting senior leaders to speak to the interns while they are still in the company is another great way of strengthening company culture. One company that has implemented this approach is Foundation Medicine, a Massachusetts-based biotech company. According to the company's director of campus experience and recruitment, Megan Houlker, the company brought senior leaders over the summer to speak on diverse topics. The outcome of these efforts is that interns get more invested in the company and are likely to come back in the future.
Start taking steps now!
One of the most simple and effective ways to continue intern communication is by leveraging a tool like Symba. We can help you connect with your alumni, engage your current remote interns, and optimize your early talent program overall. Interested in a live demo on our Alumni Features and other management tools? Sign up today!