Monday, May 14, 2012

Have You Hired Your Interns Yet?

I would like to challenge our customers and our suppliers to make this the summer to get serious about hiring interns.  Three benefits come to mind:

First, you can increase your productivity at low cost. Our high schools, colleges, and graduate schools continue to prepare young people who are in fact dedicated, focused, and capable. And yes, while the overall state of our educational system needs serious repair, there are many young people who can offer the ability to get good work done. The key is to be thoughtful about your sources; go to the appropriate college department or to certain key professors who specialize in the fields in which you need an intern. It helps them be able to place their best students on a career path, and it helps you as you can articulate the kind of person you are looking for. Note that this challenge is to hire an intern. Sure, in this job market you can get good talent for free, but that is taking advantage of the economics. Talented interns are worth a decent wage and the compensation signals to both you and the young person to take their role seriously and to ensure that the young person is doing useful work.

Second, you can audition future employees. We are enjoying these benefits already. One of our previous interns starts this June after graduation as a full-time employee. We have both tried each other out during her previous summer, and we know the fit is good and true. If you have checked the research on the cost of unsuccessful hires, you know it costs a great deal to hire the wrong person (both for your organization and for that person as well.) Even if you view your summer interns as only an opportunity to screen for future hires, you can afford to hire many, many interns for the cost of one full-time employee that does not work out.

Third, you are doing your part to build a successful workforce. You know that technology has eliminated many entry-level jobs. Think of the bank tellers, entry level insurance agents; heck--even our local movie theater just replaced a few dozen entry-level jobs with a new concession delivery system which has automated nearly every position. The fact is that first jobs are a critical part of a young person's growth and development. In fact, for many, those first part-time jobs help make the case for school and more education, not to mention being the means by which they learn the non-academic skills that make for a good employee. In this economy, however, vast numbers of entry-level, part-time opportunities have simply vanished. Do your part to create opportunities to launch a career path and everyone wins.

Dr. W. Douglas Zimmerman
President & CEO
VisionLink, Inc.