Over are the days where interns act as personal assistants, fetching coffee for the office and filing paperwork. Internship programs today have evolved into comprehensive programs that employers can utilize to recruit talented college students, create a positive atmosphere of mentorship within their workplace, and complete technical projects for a fraction of the costs. Today marks part one of our series on the best practices for recruiting students and the opportunities provided by Georgia Tech for employers to engage with.
What are Student Workers?
Unlike their portrayal in TV shows and movies, student workers today can be assigned complicated and in-depth office tasks equivalent to entry level employees. College students are eager to gain real-world work experience while still pursuing their undergraduate degrees, and most students will even push back their graduation date if it means strengthening their resume to increase their odds of receiving a full-time offer post-graduation. The two most popular ways to hire student workers today are to create either an internship or a co-op program. These programs can be as involved or basic as you want to make them, but it’s no secret that establishing an intern or co-op program opens the door to endless benefits for both student and employer.
Internship vs. Co-op Programs
When looking to hire student workers, companies should first analyze their needs and capacity when deciding what program would best fit their environment. While internship and co-op programs both involve student workers, they pose unique opportunities that can be customized per a company’s unique needs.
Internships are a single semester opportunity for students to be employed in order to gather tangible work experience. A usual internship will range from either 6-8 weeks and can either be paid or unpaid. Internships are also unique in that they can be offered as either part-time or full-time. Employers can use internships in a number of ways. Perhaps you’ve been looking to revitalize your website, but your entire staff is bogged down with work for the foreseeable future. You could hire a summer intern majoring in computer science or web design whose focus would be to create a unique web experience for your customers. Another example of a potential internship would be hiring a new marketing or content production intern each semester to manage your weekly newsletters, blogs, and social media.
Whereas internship programs are offered over a single semester as either paid or unpaid positions, co-op programs are a three-semester agreement between students and employers. Students are hired as full-time workers (35+ hours a week) on a rotating semester basis. If a student is hired to begin their co-op for a fall semester, then they will work full-time during the fall, return to campus to take class for the spring semester, work for your group over the following summer, take class over the fall, and finish their final term with your group in the next spring semester. Co-op programs are always paid, and as opposed to internships, they offer students long-term projects and expose them to various facets of the company. A consulting firm, for example, may have a co-op student working on internal projects over their first term as they get acquainted to company and by their second and third terms directly engaging with customers providing detailed data analysis and proposals.
Reap the Benefits!
So why bother creating a program at all? Hiring student workers offers employers a countless number of opportunities to develop their own workplace environment as well as to transform their recruiting practices. Below are our reasons why you should begin creating a student worker program today.
- Internships and Co-op programs often lead to full-time job offers once students graduate. While it’s not guaranteed that employers give their interns full-time offers, an internship or co-op can serve as an extended interview period. After working with a student for one to three semesters, employers can easily gauge if they want this person working for them full-time.
- Expand your recruiting pool. Having a popular internship or co-op program is a well-known fact amongst college students. If you offer a competitive and enticing program, students are more likely to apply for full-time positions after graduating if their friends enjoyed their time working for you as an undergraduate.
- You can further introduce a positive environment of mentorship into your workplace. While they operate independently, interns and co-ops are looking for as much real-world experience as they can get. By having them work in tandem with your employees, you can introduce values mentorship in your office space by coaching and guiding the next generation of your field.
- Give back to your community. You can continue to create community partners with local colleges and universities. Help your brand grow by constantly hiring new, young talent on a rotating basis.
- They’re cheap. With dual ambitions to both be paid and to gain a competitive edge amongst their peers, interns and co-ops are almost always paid less than a full-time employee. If you have a project or series of projects you need completed, consider hiring an intern to fulfill the task at a fraction of the cost.
So, How Do I Get Started?
At this point, creating an internship or co-op program might sound like a unique opportunity for your group. Make sure to return to our blog next week for the best tips and tricks in creating an internship or co-op program and the resources offered by Georgia Tech to help you get started.