5 Reasons Why You Should Build a Talent Pipeline with Interns

Nora Gerber
Nora connects employers with the resources necessary to tap into the employment market and keeps a pulse on the best ways to attract and retain talent. One of her areas of expertise is assisting companies to connect with emerging talent. She provides resources on internship program development and is a strategic partner for members on how to source and recruit people for their teams. Nora is a Columbus native growing up in the heart of the city and is a proud alumna of Columbus Alternative High School and The Ohio State University. She likes to stay active in her community through United Way’s young professional affinity group, LINC.

It’s that time of year: when the air smells like new school supplies and students return to the classroom. This means college recruitment for internships also begins. If you are thinking about summer internship opportunities, or growing your company with entry level positions, now is a great opportunity to start connecting with young talent.

We’ve spoken to multiple employers like DSW, Big Lots, and OhioHealth, who are creating robust internship pipelines. (Check out the list of companies here). We’ve taken their best practices and broken it down to 5 simple reasons why you should build your talent pipeline with interns and 4 suggestions on how to get started.


5 Reasons Why You Should Build a Talent Pipeline with Interns

  1. Training Opportunity, What Skills Gap?

Interns are fresh and green in both technical skills and experience in the “real world.” By creating an internship program, it gives you an opportunity to train and groom them, making these students workforce ready when they graduate. Then, when you hire your intern for the new entry level position, you don’t need to allocate time and resources to educate them on company procedures. Big Lots recognizes the importance of hands on instruction, they even refer to their internship opportunity as a 12 week paid training program.

  1. Cultural Fit

Talent pipelines that start with interns allow the employer and the intern to have a trial run. The fit of a work environment goes both ways. After your contractual agreement, you’ll both know if it is best to move into a more permanent position.

  1. Applicant Flow Through Word of Mouth Marketing

A talent pipeline will set you up for a positive feedback loop. This means if your interns feel motivated and successful, they are more likely to tell their friends about their experience; which leads them to encourage other students to apply for the program. In general, your intern becomes an ambassador of your company spreading knowledge of what you do and who you are by word of mouth.

DSW, Inc. does this really well. They empower their interns to take charge of their own journey with the company. This allows them to have a unique and fulfilling experience and prompts them to apply for the internship again next year, seek out a full time role, or tell friends to apply for the opportunity. Through this type of organic marketing, you will be able to create a pool of talent interested in working your company.

  1. Strategic Planning

Think about your internship program as a way to feed the growth of your company. You might feel as if you need someone to fill a position today, but what about future positions in 6 months or a year? As you build the program, you cultivate talent in a way that will help expand your company as your hiring needs arise.

As an example, DSW understands the need for people; they are constantly hiring for their call center. Their strategy to fill these entry level roles is to engage students first through an internship opportunity. Once they are ready to become full time employees they see better retention rates and a more dedicated staff to the overall mission of the company. Additionally, demand for students continues to increase, so in the past year they decided to move their recruitment calendar up to be more competitive with other companies vying for the same candidates.

Pro Tip: Utilize your internship program as an integral part of your strategic plan. Start recruiting interns now for summer 2016.

  1. Stay Current

A great way to engage your intern is to ask their opinion. Even if you don’t use their suggestions, it will make them feel part of the team, and could provide you with some fresh perspectives. This is a productive way to also stay current with trends and technology.

Make sure you check out this Powerpoint Presentation on how to Engage Emerging Talent through Internships as a guide.


Suggestions on how to get started:

The next logical question is how to start on the creation of a talent pipeline with interns? First, you have to generate visibility with students.  Here are 4 quick suggestions on how to do that:

  1. Go to the career fairs
  2. Post your paid opportunities on ColumbusInternships.com
  3. Do some social listening, connect with students on social media platforms so it’s easy for them to follow your company
  4. Plug into classrooms with relevant course work and collaborate with professors to talk to students

If you want consultation on how to get started on any of the above, let us know, we want to be your strategic partner in this effort. Contact us for more information.