Internships are becoming increasingly important and often required for college students in nearly all degree programs. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, sixty-five percent of bachelor’s degree graduates from the Class of 2015 participated in an internship, the highest percentage recorded since data started being collected in 2007.
Due to the increased interest in internships, employers are finding competition amongst themselves to attract the best talent, especially between small businesses or startups and established enterprises.
TechPoint is currently selecting the host companies and internship candidates for the 2017 Class of Xtern, our 10-week summer internship program for tech-skilled college students, and the two-year post graduate Indy Tech Fellowship program. As we ask companies about hosting Xterns or Tech Fellows, many have asked us how to provide the best experience possible for their young talent.
A few of our previous Xtern host companies offered advice about internship projects, company culture and overall experience to help those considering Xterns for the summer of 2017 or Tech Fellows.
ConnectThink CEO Chris Waugh says that having a smaller team of 15 allows them to offer a clear line of sight into the projects an intern would work on. With larger employers, it is much more difficult to meet and connect with everyone in the company to see how the entire business works. “Our interns can meet the clients they are solving problems for, which allows them to see the end-to-end interaction and how their project affects people. When I had an internship 10 years ago, I produced a website, and it was a pretty big internship project. Later on, I saw the website I created in the company’s commercial. It was really cool to see something I did and how it was being used even after my internship was over.”
Access to business leadership is easier to offer with smaller companies. “Our interns and employees spend a lot of time with our senior staff, which gives them visibility into what the entire business is working on and how well we are doing.”
In addition to transparency of projects and accessibility of staff, Waugh says the team held a lunch and learn every Monday where a team member would talk about whatever they wanted to share, such as current projects. Their Xtern, Prahkar, gave a lunch and learn presentation at the end of summer that highlighted his Xtern experience.
Many of our Xterns are from outside of Indiana, and they know little about Indianapolis as a community. Kronos took this opportunity to bridge team building with experiencing Indianapolis by launching an Indy Scavenger Hunt. Any Xtern host company could participate, and in total over 50 people attended. Teams were created by company, allowing for competition between companies to see who could finish the hunt first.
Maggie Carter, Campus Recruiter at Kronos, finds it important for companies to encourage Xterns to participate in the after-hours activities created by TechPoint. “Xtern brings students that are not from Indy in and shows them what opportunities are out there for them. It makes it great for us to hire them and keep them with us in Indy once they graduate.” Kronos transitioned their Xtern, Max Sarayev, to a full time position after he graduated.
Professional development is built into the culture at Kinney Group due to the number of certifications their engineers have to complete each year. Jenny Miller, People Operations Associate at Kinney Group, offers that same technical training opportunity to Xterns. “If you identify a professional development track or certification that would be great for your role, you can ask for access to it through our professional development partnerships,” said Miller.
Kinney Group hosts training during the summer that covers everything from employee benefits, interview training, or even lunch with the CEO. “We provide these training opportunities to build community that emphasizes how we are all in this together. We genuinely take care of our colleagues and want the best of them,” said Miller. “If you are a product development intern and want to learn about finance, we can make that happen.”
If you have a conference room or gathering space available to you, consider hosting a Tech Talk. It was a natural fit for Kinney Group since professional development is already a core part of their culture. 60 Xterns showed up to Kinney Group’s Tech Talk, making it standing room only — and it was the last Tech Talk of the summer.