Why your next new hire should be an intern
If you don’t already, invite a high school or college student to shadow you for a day
The most interesting and perhaps difficult thing about college is that it is not, for the most part, preparation for a career. It’s four (or more) years of learning, growing and considering future options. Many teens, when told this, are confused. Why would they go to college, if not to get a job? What’s the point in paying all this money, if not to prepare for a career?
Make no mistake — many college degrees like journalism, teaching or hotel and restaurant management are vocational. While each of those options may require an internship for hands-on experience, they ultimately give the student tools to hit the ground running upon graduation.
Engineering coursework has the same type of vocational style, with assignments that prepare the student for something in the field. But does a teenager know at 17 that he wants to get a mechanical engineering degree so that he can design HVAC systems in hospitals? And that it will take four or more years to obtain a professional engineer license? And that he has to align with the right company to be able to work a specific job? Likely not.
There aren’t too many teenagers who want to shadow someone in their 20s or 30s at their job (Gasp! So old!). Not only does a full-time career seem far off, the prospect of shadowing several people just to learn about various professions takes a lot of initiative and connections to adults in those “maybe” positions. Not many teens have the foresight to align interests with academic skills with hands-on wisdom. Heck, not many adults do.
While it’s expensive, time-consuming and difficult, I suggest everyone reading these words reach out to his alma mater, high school or local vocational school to offer a one-day shadowing option or a full-blown internship. Without a bit of nurturing, the next waves of mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection engineers will be quite small.
Many firms want to focus on hiring — to find the right person straight out of school and mold them to fit the company. Companies often want to spend the effort now with these new team members to ensure they’re trained correctly. The benefits of creating an internship program include:
- Fill employment gaps.
- Reduce recruiting costs.
- Train current interns to become future employees.
- Build a good reputation while promoting the business.
- Establish relationships with schools and institutions.
We have to back out of the picture even farther and engage students even younger. The return on investment is not immediate in this case, and might not even happen at all, but a day here or there with a team member is a start.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, slightly more than 68% of employers ended up offering their interns full-time jobs. Almost 82% of students accepted these offers. And more than 56% of interns and almost 40% of co-op students became full-time, entry-level hires in 2020. COVID obviously changed the dynamic a bit in 2021, however NACE reported similar numbers. All exceptional numbers to work with.