3 Things Worth Doing Before Bringing on Your Company’s Interns Despite Challenges Caused By COVID-19

Updated: Dec 8, 2020

Getting caught up in waiting to get an answer back from their CEO / CHRO is the BIGGEST mistake I'm seeing from campus recruiting managers and HR executives when it comes to their internship strategy for 2021


Because thinking they will send you a magic email with all the answers you need about how this impacts your internship strategy is like thinking you'll get JACKED right after you purchase a gym membership… Hate to break it to you, but that is not happening 😅


The question remains… How do you build a 2021 internship strategy (virtual or in-person) for your company when YOU don't even know when you'll be back in the office?


Before you start pulling your hair out thinking it is a repeat of last summer Here's a contingency system check as discussed with Steven R., founder of College Recruiter:


1) Instead of waiting to hear back from your CEO / CHRO on an answer, proactively survey your incoming interns to get their perspective on their comfort level around an in-person internship. Share these data points.


2) If it is safe to go back, what policies and procedures will you have to outline for your interns to execute this safely?


3) If it is a virtual internship, what do you have to do to create a memorable experience? Peep the video and let us know, how are you proactively planning for your interns? what do you have to do to create a memorable experience? Peep the video and let us know, how are you proactively planning for your interns? what do you have to do to create a memorable experience? Peep the video and let us know, how are you proactively planning for your interns?


Rishav Khanal 0:01

I know Steven, like, I don't know, what you're hearing or seeing. And I'd kind of love to get your take on this. Because obviously, with a couple of vaccines coming into the market, probably within the next few weeks, right, based on the articles from hearing, we're also hearing that some employers are kind of planning for the worst, whether it be remote work, but Fingers crossed, hoping for the best. And it kind of seems that they'll hire students who can and will work on site if that safe, remote, if necessary. And I feel like that's going to eliminate a lot of students who aren't able to, you know, work on site, perhaps due to health concerns, like myself having gotten it or the need to work remotely, just because they're taking some sort of leave to take care of a grandparent who's moved out of a nursing home to stay with somebody that had COVID so curious. Yeah, like, what are you hearing and seeing, on your side of the woods there?


Getting caught up in waiting to get an answer back from their CEO/CHRO is the BIGGEST mistake I’m seeing from campus recruiting managers and HR executives when it comes to their internship strategy for 2021


Because thinking they will send you a magic email with all the answers you need about how this impacts your internship strategy is like thinking you’ll get JACKED right after you purchase a gym membership… Hate to break it to you, but that is not happening 😅


The question remains… How do you build a 2021 internship strategy (virtual or in-person) for your company when YOU don’t even know when you’ll be back in the office? Before you start pulling your hair out thinking it is a repeat of last summer Here’s a contingency system check as discussed with Steven R., founder of College Recruiter:


1) Instead of waiting to hear back from your CEO/CHRO on an answer, proactively survey your incoming interns to get their perspective on their comfort level around an in-person internship. Share these data points.

2) If it is safe to go back, what policies and procedures will you have to outline for your interns to execute this safely?

3) If it is a virtual internship, what do you have to do to create a memorable experience? Peep the video and let us know, how are you proactively planning for your interns?


Key insight on the student-company COVID relationship by Yello

https://yello.co/blog/virtual-internship-statistics/

Steven Rothberg 0:59

Yeah, everything. It's, it's, it's all over the map. Um, in some ways, it reminds me Rishav of kind of what we were all going through in like, late February, early March, where nobody really knew what the right answer was. But almost everybody was trying to do the right thing. We're all trying to peek around corners, use a crystal ball. And of course, all you can do is the best that you can, all you can do is the best with the information you have at that time. Right. So six months from now, 12 years from now, we're going to look back, and I hope we don't judge people making what proved to be wrong decisions based on incomplete information, if you just use the information that you have, as best as you can, what else can you hope for, but, you know, I'm seeing it talking to a lot of employers, mostly large, not too many small, it's just kind of who our customers are, um, there are definitely employers that you have to be on site. And so even those ones this past summer, those interns, either they canceled the internship program, or the interns still showed up, and you know, hopefully were masked and being as safe as they could. Then there's that other whole group that I think we're really talking about are the like the office workers, you know, the the accounting interns, the people who are working in a marketing department or whatever. And fortunately, most of the most of those internships went on last summer, but adapted remote, those same employers now, I guess, you know, you're hearing the same stuff. It's like, do we have we planned for them being on site this year, because if we're going to be on site this year, that changes who we recruit them, we're going to prefer to hire students who go to schools in our area, because maybe they're not going to feel safe traveling across the country, or flying, and then finding an apartment or something for three months. So if you're going to be on site, I think that means you're going to want to favor students who are already in that metro area where they would be working. What I'm hearing mostly, though, are employers that seem to be saying we're going to do both. And what I mean by that is, we're going to.... hope for the best plan, they'll plan plan for the worst hope for the best, I bet. Yeah. Right. And it's like, so we're going to plan as if people are going to be on site. But we're expecting that realistically, they're going to be remote. I mean, you're probably hearing the same stuff. I'm in Minneapolis, you know, but I assume your news is basically the same in Chicago in the last few days. I saw in the weekend, the head of what's it called Operation warp speed, which I hate that name, but whatever. Um, you know, they're going to be the organization doing handling all the logistics for the virus. And the head of that said that he anticipates in December 20 million vaccinations, and then every month after that 30 million. So by the time interns show up in May, that means that half of us should be vaccinated, but you need like 70% to get herd immunity. Yep. I don't think we're going to be at herd immunity next summer, or by the time the interns show up, so I don't I don't see how a large organization can plan for, you know, 10 or 100 or thousands interns showing up next May I just don't think as a country we're gonna be ready. You hear the same stuff or what?


Rishav Khanal 4:37

Yeah, cuz like, when and this is kind of the gripe, I have some times where in order to not have it feel like deja vu, I'll tell the university program managers like compared to February and March. You can kind of understand and put contingency plans, right? Like if, if this happens, let's do this. If this happens, let's do This, right because the folks that are making those decisions are at a higher level in the C suite. They're trying to figure out, okay, not interns? Who are my essential employees, and how are you going to bring them back? Right. And I think that


Steven Rothberg 5:16

bigger fish to fry,


Rishav Khanal 5:18

they've got exactly, yeah. And so the engaging discussions I have, it's like, Okay, first, instead of just sort of hoping and sitting and when I asked the question like, Hey, what are your plans for summer? 2021? It's like, Oh, I'm just waiting on directions from my boss. I'm like, how is that going to change from February and March because everyone is operating with limited data. So instead, those executives are probably looking at the hierarchy? interns are probably at the bottom mid bottom, depending on your business. So I'll tell those same program managers, okay, why not get a pulse check? On the total amount of candidates you have already who've just accepted your offers, right? Just so you can communicate with them, like, hey, ask them the first question. Like, if this was remote, would you still be willing and able to participate in our internship program? If this was on site, would you still be willing and able to participate on our program, package that up and then send it to the VP of talent acquisition or the CHRO? So they can determine, okay, this is how our future pipeline is thinking about our company. I just think a lot of people just like you said, like, every month, every week now, Operation warp speed operation, this vaccines, like the news and the data, everything that we're getting is changing,


According to HR Daily Advisor, during the COVID-19 pandemic, adaptability/creativity (45%), critical thinking/problem solving (41%), and financial management (40%) have become essential skill sets for organizations to have.


Steven Rothberg 6:38

I think a lot, even like little tiny bits around the edges. It's like what's true this week was just not true two weeks ago. I mean, I was, I think it was what two weeks ago that Pfizer said, Hey, we have a vaccine. Yeah. So just kind of like politicians were saying it's coming trust us.


Rishav Khanal 6:56

would then it's like, then I like around this question. I sort of tell those program managers like, don't be order takers, right? You have the ability to be proactive. And this is also a good excuse for you to always remain in touch with the candidates that you've hired to keep them engaged about what's going on. And everybody's understanding, but they aren't understanding when you're not proactive and trying to communicate with them. So I would say build those plans. I just right now, what I'm hearing, though, was your original question is people just don't know. Like this is it's such a state by state thing. And the CHRO's. The directors are just starting to figure out, well, how do we even work within our central workers that full time workers that were spending millions of dollars on? What are the social protocols? What are the norms? How do we do this? They don't even have that figured out. So if I'm a program manager, at this point, I am leaning towards going all remote and communicating with my interns on Okay, what do they want? Yeah, but if I'm having on site, then I'm trying to build an internship program that creates procedures and manuals for Okay, if you are an intern, and if you're on site, what's the protocol that the business has when you have one on one networking conversations? Right? How do you email like all these subtle things, but that can only happen if you sit down with your team and figure out okay, if we go fully remote, this is what we're going to do. If we go hybrid, this is what we're going to do if you go on site, this what we're going to do, but everyone is just waiting for that information to come to them. And that's not going to happen that you're just going to be running into February, March all over again, you know,


Steven Rothberg 8:39

and if I was like a college Junior looking for an internship this summer, and I really had you know, I was casting a wide net, which I think most of them are because of the the mark the job market, because can be hard. I, I think I'd be really thinking hard about this. You know, if this company is saying no, everybody's going to be on site, because vaccines are coming. I don't know how trusting I would be of that. What happens if it's the end of April and lo and behold, the vaccines aren't as effective or people aren't getting vaccinated or whatever, do I then lose my internship for the summer because they're not going to have an internship program. I mean, I, I think as a student, I would really favor an organization that said, We are going to make sure that our that our program is remote and successful. We have a lot more time this year, we can be a lot more thoughtful. We did some great things last summer. Our first priority is safety. We're proud of that we were able to do that. Um, but we there were areas that we could improve on. We're incorporating this year. However, if everything goes great, and you're able to be on site, and you want to be on site, we're gonna welcome you on site. Yeah, I think a message like that would resonate. Because if I'm in Los Angeles and thinking about taking an internship in St. Louis, what am I going to go and get an apartment now? Am I going to be looking for housing? And who am I going to live with? And when it comes time to be looking for airline tickets, say in March, you know, or do I drive with a buddy halfway across? I mean, the interns have some planning to do, too. You can't just say, Oh, it's may 1. Tomorrow is the first day of your internship, by the way, you're on site. You got to give them I would think, at least a month notice. Yeah, if they were thinking it was going to be remote and that and now it's on site, you're going to lose some.


Rishav Khanal 10:38

Yeah. And it is better to know where you stand now than just wait for this magical answer to volunteer lap. That's interesting that both you and I and I wanted to quickly ask, among the customers that you're talking to, you mentioned that a lot of them, like the ones you service are mainly large. Is there a common like industry that you feel like you're talking to that are having commerce? Or like, are they more than the manufacturing, government tech? Or is it people from all over?


Steven Rothberg 11:05

Yeah, most of our customers are fortune 1000 companies and federal government agencies. And so in most of the interns that they're going to be hiring, most of that is is desk work, you know, you're sitting at a desk with a computer in front of you, um, the kinds of jobs where you tend to be out in the field, like a you know, if you're, if you're working as a mechanical engineer in an oil on an oil rig, right? We don't get that many of those jobs. And though, and that's just it's so different. And we hardly do anything in, um, in fields like driving truck driving, you know, not the traditional career path for somebody in a four year college, but very much so for somebody in a with a technical or vocational degree. Yeah, so it really varies considerably. I think it'll be also really interesting. How to, if you're a student in, say, a culinary program, and the restaurants are closed, or if you're in a hotel management program, and the hotels, although most of them are closed, they're basically skeleton steps. When those start to reopen, do interns go into the restaurants to work as assistant managers? Do they go into hotels? I got to think that all that's going to be backed by 2022. But 2021 go away? I'm skeptical. You?


Rishav Khanal 12:47

Yeah, no, same here. I mean, that's why I'm saying like, you kind of alluded to it, we have more data now. So if you still want your future pipeline, and you have the capacity to create a virtual internship experience, because other companies have tried it out. So you can probably approach them and ask like, hey, what worked for you? Last summer, right? Everyone is just a little bit more educated, where it's not as scary as it was before, that will probably be the case. And then by 2022, the businesses that really want it, I think will really push further on sites. And we'll start to see some of those come back as well. And, and real quick, I think, talking to Alex, we're going to put this out on our social as well. So just so if everybody sort of sees it if they're on LinkedIn, YouTube, whatever, how can they find you if you know, consider this like your 32nd elevator pitch or whatnot.


Steven Rothberg 13:41

Yeah, no sweat. So I'm Stephen Rothberg, college recruiter. Email is Steven steven@collegerecruiter.com. If, if my mother's not in the room and you happen to spell Steven with a pH it's it's still going to get through but but don't let her hear you or she will hunt you down and kill you. Or you know, LinkedIn Twitter at Steven Rothberg. Whatever, but yeah, call email, LinkedIn. Whatever, whatever.


Rishav Khanal 14:21

Email Rishav@inpersonco.com one of the cofounders we essentially just help companies accelerate their diversity recruitment marketing efforts by turning their interns into Campus Ambassadors. Find me on LinkedIn, I'm always on it. Twitter. I haven't gotten around. But if you want to nerd out about this stuff, just feel free to shoot me a note. But anyways, yeah, no, we will continue to do this. Steven, thanks for the meeting. Like I said, this will just be a little blurb if people want to reach out to us, but thanks again.

Steven Rothberg 14:51

great talking to you.



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