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Interns: Percolating Performance or Coffee Stains?
Employers can better leverage their college internship programs to fill talent pipelines if they give students meaningful assignments rather than just make them get coffee and file invoices.
Many organizations need to retool their internships to equip participants with the right types of experiences to make them more valuable to the organization should they stay, and leave them with a lasting favorable impression that enhances the employer’s brand in the marketplace.
For example, the Chubb Group of Insurance Cos. uses its summer internship program to help fill its pipelines “with the best and the brightest talent,” according to Debra Kestenbaum, the company’s talent acquisition manager.
The Warren, N.J-based company’s finance and accounting departments have had interns for nearly 10 years, but Chubb’s internship program has expanded to include many areas in information technology and underwriting, as well as smaller departments such as corporate communications and marketing. In 2012, Chubb had 42 interns, and at its conclusion, the company extended offers to 10 of the participants. All accepted.
“Over the years, we’ve made structural changes to the program in order to continue to improve upon what we’re doing,” Kestenbaum said. “We want to ensure that interns who are offered a full-time position are truly prepared and that those who aren’t made an offer leave their internship with a favorable impression of Chubb.”
Let Them Do Real Work
During the company’s formal summerlong program, the interns interact with different units within the organization, including attending “lunch and learn” events in which they have opportunities to meet with senior management across all departments, Kestenbaum said. Chubb’s interns also get to interact with senior leaders informally, such as at evening barbecues.
Within the various departments, interns work on projects that build skills and provide value to the company. For instance, accounting department interns might help review accounting needs for strategic business units, those in IT might help develop code, and interns in corporate communications might write blogs and post to the company’s Facebook page.
While Chubb’s management always hopes some of the interns will come back as full-time trainees, that’s not the only objective for the program.
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