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As summer draws to a close, approximately 1.5 million seasonal interns in the U.S. will be filling out offboarding paperwork and preparing themselves for exit interviews. In the past months, these talented and motivated young people have acquired technical skills, industry insights, and valuable company-specific knowledge about their temporary employers. But while many companies invest a significant amount of resources in designing and implementing their internship programs, few have a structured plan to keep interns engaged after they leave. Yet the majority of these students will graduate and enter the job market within a year—and unless companies maintain and strengthen their relationships with former interns, they’re likely to see the talent they’ve invested so much time, work, and effort in take their skills and knowledge to the competition.
Ongoing engagement is key
The primary reason for keeping former interns engaged is to be their first-choice employer when they enter the job market after graduation. If you’re the manager in charge of your company’s internship program, you need a structured plan to reach out and interact in order to achieve ongoing engagement. You can do this by first, creating an overview of what the company can offer former interns during their final year at college and second, selecting the most effective methods to communicate with them.
Some things your company might consider offering interns include mentorships, networking events, presentations by subject matter experts, additional skills trainings, and scholarships. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that many interns attend college in different cities or even overseas, so give some thought to what you can offer via digital methods such as webinars and online courses.
Of course, you have a wide range of communication methods at your disposal. An online talent community offers a convenient and effective virtual space for former interns and company representatives to interact—which makes it ideal for having conversations, sharing news and updates, and announcing events. You can also use social media, email newsletters, and even periodic one-on-one phone calls to catch up with individual interns.
Post-internship engagement benefits interns and employers
When your post-internship engagement plan is well-structured and executed, it offers former interns valuable opportunities while simultaneously raising their awareness of what your company offers in terms of work, support, and prospects. That way, when it’s time for them to enter the job market, it increases the chances of your company being their first-choice employer.