According to a recent Wall Street Journal study that surveyed 479 companies, non-profits, and government agencies that recruit new college graduates, several industries have been converting a substantial number of their undergraduate interns into full-time entry-level hires. In particular, utility, architecture, and construction firms have reported that on average, 50+% of their entry-level hires previously interned at their organization.
The popularity of this intern-to-full-time hiring strategy in several industries has stemmed from 2 primary factors. First, several of the surveyed organization companies report significantly higher employee retention rates among former interns. Second, the organizations also have observed stronger performance among former interns relative to other entry-level hires. We are not surprised by either of these findings – for in fact, many intern programs themselves are really onboarding programs in disguise, as they reflect many of the principles advocated by the Onboarding Margin framework.
As you contemplate intern-to-full-time hiring strategies, you should consider at least two things: First, assuming retention and performance success in your intern program, you should conduct a diagnostic to determine whether lessons learned from your intern program may be carried over to your general onboarding model. Secondly, with regards to interns who return for full time positions post-graduation, you should evaluate whether they require any distinct onboarding elements relative to your general intake population.
We have found that organizations that do not tailor their onboarding programs (or offer differentiated services) for distinct employee segments are at a material disadvantage. By customizing elements of your onboarding program to meet the specific needs of your interns and entry-level hires, you greatly increase the organization’s likelihood of achieving key benefits of onboarding, including increased new hire productivity and retention. In other words, taking the time and effort to customize elements of your onboarding program for intern and entry-level hires can pay dividends.