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Interns: Percolating Performance or Coffee Stains?

“I really don’t like the term ‘pre-hire training,’ as it sounds too calculated, like we’re just hiring them as interns to get them trained up,” Kestenbaum said. “This is also about developing skill sets and building a commitment to our organization. Even if the intern doesn’t come back to work at Chubb, if they have a great experience interning, they will go back out into the marketplace speaking well of us and buying our products, too.”

New York City-based MetLife Inc. has had undergraduate internship programs for years, but in 2012 the company launched one for MBA students to help build its global general management pipeline after the 2010 acquisition of American Life Insurance Co., which expanded its footprint into more than 60 countries.

Arnold Dhanesar, vice president of global talent management, said a sustainable global talent pipeline was necessary to close a gap in the company’s general manager succession plan. MetLife’s Global Leadership Development Program was designed to build a pipeline of talent who could fill general manager positions during the next five to 10 years. The program offers summer internships to first-year MBA students and full-time rotations to recent MBA graduates.

Dhanesar’s team crafted the internship to address specific business strategies and challenges, such as customer centricity. MetLife is developing a centralized service model, with streamlined communication for its customers. Last summer, MBA interns worked with the company’s customer centricity department and representatives from each of the business units on “problem statements” within their respective geographic regions. Interns worked directly with business leaders, and they were given access to data about customer problems and could ask customers questions.

For example, in the company’s life and annuities business, customers complained about service delays and lack of responsiveness from their advisers. The interns looked at factors preventing individuals from responding in a timely manner and came up with a new model.


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