If I tell you what I’m looking for, can you send over a student to work for me? (FAQ 7.0)

Let me start out by saying that we love helping employers. Love, love, love it. In fact, we have a team of folks whose duties include supporting employer recruiting efforts. However, as much as our roles involve helping off-campus folks, we ultimately have to keep what’s best for the students and for the university in mind. Which brings us to a question that we get fairly often…

Question: If I tell you what I’m looking for, can you send me a student employee?

Answer: I’m afraid not. The size of our student body makes it impossible for us to know the skills and qualifications of each student, so we are not able to recommend individuals. It’s simply not fair for us to only recommend from the small (in comparison) pool of students we know individually on a campus that has tens of thousands of people. On top of that, we don’t know your office culture well, so we are unable to discern what kind of person would be a good personality fit for your team. Lastly, most students that we encounter want to know what they are getting into before they begin a job.  Ultimately, we want to see students happy with their career choices, but as you can imagine, the chances of that would likely go down if we were to pick jobs for them.

This is what we are trying to help you avoid.

That said, we can give you some suggested recruiting strategies to help you find your desired candidates, and we’ll do our best to support you along the way. Hopefully you agree that this is the best of both worlds!

For those that are ready to learn about what services and resources are available, feel free to reach me via email at dena.o [at] uci.edu

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Can you email out my job description for me? (FAQs 6.0)

Answer: Ooh. Probably not. First, this is may not be as effective as you think. Email is fluid – inboxes fill, messages go to junkmail, things get deleted on accident (or on purpose), subject lines are skimmed, important messages are missed. However, ZotLink is a (semi) permanent home for the opportunity that students can know and trust. We recommend that you put your posting in a secure place, like ZotLink, so that students know how to find it. On top of that, it’s rare that a student will search for jobs in their inbox. They go to ZotLink for that. Wouldn’t you want your opportunity to be in the mix?

Something else to consider – what would happen if all 1,899 jobs that are currently active in ZotLink were sent out via email? Or even if 10% were sent? Students would block all Career Center emails and they’d likely stop paying attention – I know I would!  Simply put, we do want Career Center services to be confused for spambots.

More often than not, instead of sending a message through the Career Center, I’ll encourage the employer to target particular student organizations. Contact information for most is available via UCI’s Campus Organization homepage, so employers can send emails themselves. Side note – if an employer wants to reach one of our Club Affiliates, we can help with that, too (logos of current Club Affiliates are on the employer homepage of ZotLink). On the rare occasion that the Career Center helps send out a bulk email, it’s handled on a case by case basis, with a targeted audience in mind.

This is what we are trying to help you avoid.

 Hopefully this sheds some light on things! 

Until next time,

DBO

How about letting the schools visit you?

Last week, a media and entertainment company invited me and a number of other representatives from local schools up to their campus for an afternoon of introductions and discussions about their internship programs. They certainly weren’t the first organization to do something like this (I’ve attended half a dozen or so other similar events in my year here at UCI), but they were the most recent, so I wanted to bring it up to all of you. The reason? I’ve found that these events can be a great use of time.

The agenda looked something like this:

  • Started with a few minutes of chatting & networking. A few trays of snacks were set out.
  • HR team introduced themselves and played a short video about their organization
  • Other Intern Supervisors in the room introduced themselves
  • School representatives introduced ourselves
  • HR team gave a short informational presentation about their internship opportunities
  • The HR team then facilitated a short discussion about how we can work together and help interns succeed.

Bam! 90 minutes, done. In that short window of time, their organization successfully informed multiple universities about their internship opportunities, and made us aware of their policies, procedures, and recommendations for students who apply. We also saw their space, met a number of employees, and got a sense of their culture. I am sure that all of us went back to our campuses discussing what we learned (I know I did), which I think would make it a successful event in their eyes.

Admittedly, I don’t know about all the planning that went into it. The particular company I visited last week was organized (right down to pre-printed nametags) so I’m assuming that they put some time into. That said, my guess is that is was still more efficient than visiting all of our schools individually.  For those organizations that are recruiting a heavy (or steady) volume of interns/recent grads from a number of schools in their region, I think this type of event could work well.

As always, I‘m open to brainstorming or hearing more ideas – just let me know! You can find me at dena.o [at] uci.edu

-DBO

Building your Internship – Summary and Resources (Part 6 of 6)

We’ve made it, friends!  Six posts later, here we are. As promised, below is a summary of posts, along with some resources to help you down the road.

Part 1 – Laying the Foundation

  • Organizational goals for hosting interns?
  • Departmental goals for hosting interns?
  • Intern duties and learning objectives?
  • Required Intern qualifications?
  • Mentors/supervisors in each department hosting interns, and their goals?

Part 2 – Structure & Compensation

  • Where will the intern(s) work?
  • When will the intern(s) work?
  • How are we compensating the interns?

Part 3 – Recruiting your Superstar Interns

  • Job description
  • Where to post
  • What else can be done

Part 4 – Getting Started on the Right Foot

  • Prepare the Team
  • Prepare the Space
  • Welcome!
  • Help them get connected

Part 5 – Evaluating Performance & Concluding the Internship

  • Let them know measures for success
  • Ask for their feedback throughout the program
  • Hold an exit interview
  • Stay in touch with former interns

Resources

It is my sincere hope that this collection of posts has been helpful for you and your organization. But you definitely won’t want to stop here! Below are suggested resources I’ve shared:

  • US Department of Labor’s Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act – self-explanatory. Every employer hosting interns needs to read it, and those who are thinking about unpaid positions need to memorize it and recite it back 50 times. Okay, maybe not 50, but at least until you get the idea!
  • NACE  – the National Association of Colleges & Employers, the big daddy when it comes to guidelines, policies, and procedures. A wealth of information. Don’t miss their Postion Statement on US Internships, or their 15 Best Practices for Internship Programs.
  • MPACE – the Mountain Pacific Association of Colleges & Employers, a regional arm of NACE with mostly West Coast & Rocky Mountain members. There are multiple chapters of NACE, MPACE happens to be where I belong.
  • Intern Bridge – self-described as “the nation’s premier recruiting consulting and research firm.” I haven’t had as much exposure to InternBridge as the other organizations above, but the information & research I have seen from them has been helpful. They have eye-opening data on paid vs. unpaid internships and how the differences affect both employers and students.
  • Your local Career Center – Many universities have someone in a position like mine, handling employer relations. You may also see someone in an “internship coordinator” role. These people are a wealth of knowledge and can often share specifics about  your region, your industry, and even the major or student population on their particular campus. Don’t be shy! 
  • Small Business Trend’s “How to Make the Most of an Intern”, which has been my favorite article on this topic so far.

I’ll continue to keep you updated as I come across new resources. In the meantime, happy planning and keep in touch if I can be of further help!

-DBO

Building your Internship – Evaluating Performance and Concluding the Internship (Part 5 of 6)

In parts 1, 2, 3 & 4, you laid the groundwork and determined your organization’s goals for your internship program, outlined the duties and requirements of your intern, clarified the structure of the internship position(s), determined how you will compensate your interns, then recruited and welcomed your interns. Whew! You’ve been busy!  Today’s post will focus on evaluating and concluding the internship.

Disclaimer: This section will provide guidance for employers building their programs independently of a school/program. In the case that you are partnering with a school or academic department, you may find that there are requirements that you must consider for evaluating your interns and concluding your program.

Let them know measures for success
Back in Part 1 of the series, you determined the goals of your program, as well as the intern’s duties and learning objectives. I recommend establishing just how those two relate to one another, and sharing it with your intern.  This kind of information is not only educational; it can also be empowering (speaking from my own experience as a member of Generation Y).  Then, when it comes time to evaluate their performance, you have clear measures to which you can refer.

Ask for their feedback throughout the program
This idea was brought up during an Internbridge Webinar I participated in a few months ago, and I think it was a fantastic one.  What happens if you only solicit feedback at the end of an internship?  You don’t have time to make adjustments before your interns leave. If you get their feedback and impressions throughout the program, you can shape the program accordingly. Now, I don’t mean making significant adjustment on the whim of someone who’s with you for a short time, I mean simply considering their impressions to see if there’s room for improvement.

Hold an exit interview
Another golden idea from our friends at NACE. With an exit interview, or even a survey, you can get more significant feedback to consider for your next internship cycle.

Stay in touch with former interns
It’s very possible you may want to hire an intern immediately. It’s also possible that you may not have a suitable opportunity when the internship is wrapping up. But what about six months down the road? Or two years down the road? Your former employees/interns can be valuable assets to your organization, so be sure you don’t lose track of them.  They also have the potential to be great advocates and referral agents when you are ready for your new crew of interns.

Phew!  We’ve covered quite a LOT in these last 5 posts. Don’t worry, though –  Post 6 will offer a recap of main topics, as well as fruther resources to help you from here.  Stay tuned!

Building your Internship – Getting Started on the Right Foot (Part 4 of 6)

In parts 1, 2 & 3, you determined your organization’s goals for the internship program, outlined the duties and requirements of your intern, clarified the structure of the internship position(s), decided how you will compensate your interns, and learned how to recruit interns. Today’s post will focus on the next steps, getting ready for their arrival and starting on the right foot.

Prepare the Team
Back in Part 1, you also determined the departments and the supervisors that would be working with the interns, and gave them the opportunity to establish goals. Now that the big day has arrived, everyone invested in your internship program should have a clear understand not only of the topics discussed in Part 1 (here’s a refresher, if you need it) but also how these topics will translate to a typical work day for the intern. This could take the shape of an outline, a handbook, a list, or even simply through conversations with one another.

Supervisors should be prepared to welcome the interns and offer clear, relevant expectations. I also recommend a review of this article by Small Business Trends, specifically Section A for “Authentically Mentor and Coach Your Intern.”

Prepare the Space
Ask yourself a quick question – where will the interns be physically located during their tenure?  If that space (and equipment ) is accessible for them starting on day one, they will immediately feel like they belong (and like their new employer is on top of things)!

Welcome!
Sounds simple enough, right?  Granted, bringing a new body into your work space can be stressful and even nerve-wracking, but I promise you that they are more nervous than you are. Take a moment to look them in the eye, shake their hand and let them know you’re happy they’re here (or that you’re glad to see them…or that you’re excited to work together. Whatever language is the most genuine for you).

Also, keep the rest of the team informed about their arrival. While not everyone will be working closely with the intern, they should at least know about the newcomer, and be prepared to introduce themselves as well. If their new cubicle buddy looks surprised to see them and clearly hasn’t tidied up their half of the desk, the intern will notice, and will likely not feel too good about it.

Help them get connected
The larger your team of interns, the more creative you can get in this area. Facebook and LinkedIn groups? Evening socials?  Weekend service days? Themed days in the office?  Book clubs? Coffee breaks?  The list of things you can schedule for the team is endless.

Coming up in Part 5: Evaluating Performance and Concluding the internship.

Building your Internship – Recruiting Superstar Interns (Part 3 of 6)

In parts 1 & 2, you determined your organization’s goals for the internship program, outlined the duties and requirements of your intern, clarified the structure of the internship position(s), and decided how you will compensate your interns. Today’s post will focus on the next steps, Recruiting Superstar Interns.

Disclaimer: This section will provide guidance for employers building their programs independently of a school/program. In the case that you are partnering with a school or academic department, you may find that there are requirements that you must consider while recruiting your students.

Job Description

A job description that’s on par with a full-time, professional opening will help attract a high-caliber pool of applicants.  Personally, I’m a fan of keeping things are straightforward as possible (no trendy language or exclamation points) though I understand that some organizations/cultures like to represent themselves with that sort of thing. Ultimately, it’s up to you. My main suggestion is to remember what it’s like to be a student without years of experience in a field – the clearer, the better. Some previous blog posts with specific details and recommendations are available here, here, and here.

At the very least, I recommend including Title, Descriptions of both Duties & the Organization, Qualifications, Compensation, Location, and Full-Time or Part-Time designation. UCI’s ZotLink also prompts employers to include a few other details, including duration, hours per week, and job function.

Where to post?

Most, if not all, colleges and universities have an online job board.  For example, here at UCI, we have ZotLink, which employers can use for free to post jobs, review resumes and sign-up for events.  By all means, get your posting up as soon as you are ready to begin recruitment. You never know what kind of response you’ll get. Some of you may hear from ideal candidates a few hours after posting.  If you are not committed to recruiting from a certain university, then be sure to get your posting out to as many schools as possible (note: many universities share software that allows you to post to multiple schools at once, for a fee).

Be sure to that you also include the job description on your company website, especially if you have a “Careers” page.  Students will often go straight from the posting to your company website to check things out, so you’ll want to be sure that the opportunity is present and consistent in both places.

What else can be done?

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of additional options for you to get the word out about your internship opportunities.  Now, some may require additional budget, but not all. Here are some further ideas, with ($) to indicate those that are likely require additional fees, which will vary depending on the school:

  • Establish a presence for the opportunity on Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter/etc.
  • Host information sessions on local college campuses ($)
  • Reach out to relevant student groups of interest about your opportunity. For example, UCI’s student organization directory is available to the public, and employers are welcome to search the listings for professionally oriented clubs.
  • Purchase additional advertising space on local campuses ($)
  • Do you have former interns, or other GenY employees willing to speak about their experiences? Post some testimonials on YouTube or on your company’s website
  • Schedule a visibility table in a high-traffic location at a local campus ($)
  • Participate in a Career Fair ($)
  • Make sure all your internal employees know about the opportunity – some may want to refer candidates

Whew!  Hopefully that lists helps you get started. Stayed tuned for Post #4: Hiring & On-Boarding, to help you plan what to do with the lucky few that get hired.  Side note: there will be a few days in between this post and the next, as I’ll be off campus for much of tomorrow & Friday, with our Winter Internship and Career Fair in between on Thursday.