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  • Candidate Selection, Strong Connections Yield High Internship Program Rates

    February 24, 2016 | By NACE Staff

    Management discusses internship candidates.

    TAGS: best practices, internships, candidate selection, nace insights

    Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals

    To make its internship program a valuable source of talent, Owens Corning places emphasis on hiring interns who it feels would not only be successful full time employees, but will also be successful leaders in the future.

    The company also looks to build deep connections between interns, the company, and the community during the interns' time in Toledo, Ohio.

    "Our intern program is a direct feeder into our early career leadership development programs," explains Jordan Dwyer, early career specialist with Owens Corning. "These programs are designed to build the pipeline of future leaders for the organization, which is why we target exceptional talent for our internships each summer."

    This focus on hiring interns who fit the successful leadership profile and on building deep connections during the internship itself have led to impressive acceptance, conversion, and retention rates. Owens Corning achieved an 89 percent intern acceptance rate and a 65 percent conversion rate last year (when the overall average conversion rate was 51.7 percent, according to NACE's 2015 Recruiting Benchmarks Survey).

    In addition, 100 percent of the leadership development program participants who started with the company a year ago are still with the company, while, five years out, 77 percent of leadership program participants remain Owens Corning employees.

    Owens Corning's internship is a 12-week program during which interns are given meaningful and challenging work assignments. What does the company look for in the candidates it hires?

    "We look for strong interns who are thirsting for that kind of challenge and want to make an immediate impact on the company," Dwyer says.

    Some of the other qualities Owens Corning looks for in the candidates it hires are students who:

    • Show the ability to learn at an accelerated pace.
    • Possess strong leadership skills.
    • Are eager learners.
    • Aren't afraid to think outside of the box.
    • Can solve problems creatively.
    • Aren't not afraid to ask why.

    Dwyer says that the internship program duration gives the students plenty of time to learn about the company and get a feel for its culture, and it gives Owens Corning time to assess the students as well.

    "By the end of the internship, we know exactly who is joining our organization, and the students know exactly who we are as a company," she says. "I think this helps us in terms of retention rates. Additionally, hiring from our internship program means that when talent joins us full time, they have already been exposed to one of our businesses or corporate functions for an entire summer—sometimes two summers—which certainly helps them come up the learning curve at a quicker rate."

    At the start of their internships, interns go through a day-long orientation program that helps to acclimate them to the Owens Corning environment. They meet with CEO Mike Thaman on their first day, learn about the company's stance on safety and how it is ingrained in its way of thinking, take a tour of the building, and meet their managers.

    But, it's not all work. Throughout the summer, interns participate in fun events—such as working on community service outreach projects, attending Toledo Mud Hens baseball games, and playing in a softball game at the Mud Hens stadium in which Owens Corning executives face off against interns in front of employees. These shared experiences deepen the interns' connections not only with each other, but with all of Owens Corning and the greater Toledo community.

    "Our interns also get ample time with our senior leaders, often participating in meet and greets or lunch and learn sessions," Dwyer says. "Outside of work, we look to get our interns acclimated with the community. Last year, our interns were involved in a program put on by the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce that allowed them to participate in fun outings after work with other interns in the area."

    Dwyer points out that giving interns an outstanding overall experience is ultimately what connects students to Owens Corning.

    "We believe that creating events that bring our interns together, providing exposure to senior leaders, supplying meaningful project work throughout the summer, and offering involvement with the greater Toledo community combine to help us convert interns into full-time employees," she says.