Are you turning your interns into staff members? Or are you showing them all the door once the internship is over?
A valuable starting point for an assessment of any company’s internship program may be to take a simple headcount of how many of your current staff members are former interns.
Yes, there are many factors – such as staffing stability, grade-levels of interns and the economy – that can play a role in whether former interns get hired. But if your company doesn’t have a single former intern on staff now, it may be indication-number-one of a flaw in your internship program.
We may be unusually loaded with former interns—9 of our 30 current employees (see photo above)—but we take that as a point of pride that we’re building a culture of development that in turn creates true opportunities for our interns.
Is your company creating the responsibilities, training and experiences for interns that would jump out if you saw them on a resume?
Here are some memories and insights from a few of our former interns who are now on staff:
David Choate, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer — intern, fall of 1995
Trust, Responsibility and Flexibility
“I was given the opportunity to shadow, actually try to keep up with, Dusty [Rhodes, president and founder of Conventures] during the closing of the old Boston Garden and the opening of the Fleet Center. I was working not only making 50,000 copies as the “copy guy” over four days but also assisting Dusty and the team of producers to do script re-writes and be Marvelous Marvin Hagler’s assistant. Frankly, I was just amazed and excited about the amount of work that I was allowed to do as an intern.
“That experience showed me how Dusty has created a proven system for events and when you are here as an intern, you are trained in that way of doing things. Those become building blocks for a future career in this industry.
“A key lesson I learned was about flexibility. You have to be flexible with your time and outlook and with working with some many different people. You have to be able to change gears at any time to take on new challenges.”
Alecia Marino, Account Executive for Special Events — intern, summer and fall 2010
Jump at the chances given to you
“Never turn down the opportunity to work an event! I was fortunate enough to work many of the events during my time as an intern. That is how I got to know most of the employees and that is where they noticed my work ethic. They knew that I wanted to ultimately get a job at Conventures and whenever anyone in the office asked me to work one of their events, I jumped on the opportunity without hesitation. I felt that I had an advantage when I applied for a job since most employees in the company knew me.”
Alecia now manages application process for the internship program:
“The first thing I look at is their work experience and skills. I look for their previous jobs and if they are related to the events/hospitality industry. Since we solely use Apple products, I look for applicants that are skilled in both PCs and Macs. It takes a while to get used to Apple products if you are not familiar with them.
“Of course, the applicant should do some research about Conventures before applying and they should review their resume and cover letter enough times to not have any spelling errors.
“The best advice that I could give to students applying for internships is to practice their interviewing skills and to come up with answers that are unique. I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve asked an applicant, ‘Why did you want to get into the event industry?’ and they reply with, ‘I like to see all of my hard work pay off from start to finish’ or ‘I’m a people person.’ If someone gives me a unique, detailed answer, I immediately start listening to their answers more closely and I’m more intrigued.”
Aric Tao, Senior Staff Accountant — intern summer 2009, summer and fall 2010
Training and new challenges
“My time as an intern was an extremely gratifying learning experience. I started off here with the intention of only learning accounting and finance but slowly developed a fondness for events after helping out with a several after I had graduated.
“I began doing really basic admin work, then slowly built up to bigger, more important tasks as my internship went on. In terms of events, it started out the same way, either developing people skills being an usher to learning registration or starting out organizing t-shirts at road races to running number pickup or race-day registration.
“I think interns transition well to full-time staff at Conventures because they’re trained properly and then challenged with a variety of responsibilities. They also have a passion for events, are good fits within their teams and enjoy the company’s culture.”