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  • Internships: Rates, Feedback Show Program Health

    October 12, 2016 | By NACE Staff

    A group of interns provide their feedback on a company's internship program.

    Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals

    This summer, Aramark hosted 240 interns, 139 of whom were graduating seniors. Among this group, 113 have been recommended for the company’s full-time program.

    “Although this year’s intern-to-full time offer process is not yet complete, 81 percent of our graduating senior interns have been recommended for the full-time leadership program and are eligible to receive an offer,” explains Stephanie Pallante, assistant vice president, global college recruiting at Aramark.

    By itself, an intern offer rate can yield limited perspective about, for instance, whether the organization is hiring interns who fit the organization. Combining it with other program measures—acceptance and conversion rates, intern assessments by program managers, and program feedback from managers and interns themselves—allows for much deeper insight into the health of an internship program.

    From the employer perspective, higher intern offer rates and lower acceptance rates generally are indicators of a more robust college hiring market, with students having more options from which to choose. Current benchmarks, however, suggest that while employers are responding to a growing economy, students are still wary about turning down an offer.

    According to NACE’s 2016 Internship & Co-op Survey, the average intern offer rate—72.7 percent—is the highest it has been since the peak of the pre-recession market in 2006, while the acceptance rate of 85.2 percent remains well above pre-recession levels. In turn, these two figures yielded a conversion rate of 61.9 percent, a 13-year high.

    Aramark’s intern conversion rate into its full-time program has averaged 74 percent over the past two years, explains Pallante, who points out that Aramark’s internship program—named “Step Up to Leadership” (S2L)—is the talent pipeline for the organization’s full-time “Accelerate to Leadership” program.

    “The success of Aramark’s intern conversion rate is a critical component of our recruitment strategy in meeting our goal of 400 annual hires to our full-time program,” she explains. “Aramark leverages our intern conversion rate to promote our S2L program both internally to key stakeholders, as well as externally on campus. Being able to clearly articulate a clear pathway from intern into our full-time leadership development program certainly differentiates Aramark from our competition.”

    Pallante has several recommendations for boosting your organization’s rates and the overall health of your internship program:

    • Track both successes and failures—Continually document the demographics of the converting interns (gender, race, university, degrees/majors, and more) for the purposes of reporting and strategic planning for future recruitment efforts. In addition, keeping track of rejection rates along with reasons (compensation, position location, and others) are all critical to ensure future success.
    • Solicit feedback and make adjustments—Conduct formal surveys of intern feedback at the conclusion of the internship. This information provides critical feedback for consideration and enhancements to the program in the future. Also, require hiring managers to complete mid-summer and end-of-summer intern performance assessments to identify and address any issues or concerns at the mid-point of the summer so they can work with the student to course correct for a positive recommendation and hopefully, intern conversion.
    • Offer and promote incentives—Whether it is pay, scholarships, housing stipends, discounts or whatever other incentive your organization offers, be sure that it is highlighted and well known among your current and future intern population. The goal is to set your program apart.