Providing choices like “the opportunity for full-time employment,” “good references,” “competitive compensation,” “networking opportunities,” “a flexible work schedule” and “client exposure,” Universum, a global research and advisory firm, asked 65,679 undergraduates in the U.S. to identify the three they’d most like their internship employer to offer.
More than half (51%) said an opportunity for full-time employment is most important to them.
“Given the current economy, it is no surprise that interns most value the opportunity for full-time employment,” says Vicki Lynn, senior vice president of client talent strategy and employer branding at Universum. “However we do see shifts in what is most important to students year to year, and also country to country.”
Lynn says this data may be valuable to employers who are investing in strategic internship programs to source top talent for full-time positions. “A strategic internship program is one of the best ways to proactively identify, attract and engage talent early. A three-month internship period provides the employer and intern time to assess fit for the organization. Best in class companies, non-profits, educational institutions and the government are intentional about their internship programs, setting goals and measuring the conversion rates of interns to full-time hires. Studies show that the retention rate is higher of employees who had previously interned at the company versus employees who had not interned, so internship programs pay off as long-term talent acquisition and retention investments,” she explains. “The Universum survey is important because the data and insights help firms make decisions based on facts regarding what attracts top students to internships and enables firms to direct their intern program resources for optimum hiring results.”
While these survey results are likely most useful to employers—Lynn says that universities can also use this data to improve career services for their students.
“Finally,” she adds, “parents who today are key influencers in their child’s career decision-making need to understand how to advise their children based on current data on the employment landscape. Yesterday it may have been sufficient to advise children to take a summer off, or to take a summer job as a babysitter or lifeguard. Today, content-rich internship experience is expected by employers, and more than 80% of graduating college students at the top U.S. universities have had at least one internship. Parents need to guide their children to seek meaningful internships that provide learning, growth and networking opportunities starting freshmen year or earlier.”
After full-time employment, what students want most from their internships is job orientation and training (42%), followed by a good employer reference (29%). Rounding out the top five are challenging assignments (20%) and flexible working conditions (19%).
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