What Do Interns Really Want? [Infographic]

Developing an extraordinary internship program can be a long and winding journey. You’ll face plenty of bumps in the road, and perhaps lots of trial and error. And as we’ve seen in the news recently, you may even discover some controversy.

But overall, internships can be very beneficial for organizations — not just because enthusiastic young workers are contributing to your business goals. Internship programs can also open the door to a more diverse workforce, help add fresh perspectives to your brand, attract other young talent to your organization, and more.

Of course, employers aren’t the only ones who benefit. Although the state of the internship has shifted over time, its overarching goal remains the same — students and recent grads should gain something educational from their work experience. So, what do today’s interns really want to accomplish, and what else should employers know about them?

The following infographic, based on student employment data from InternMatch, offers insights to help employers map out a more effective internship program. Here are some highlights:

•  38% of interns want better pay
•  30% want opportunities to perform meaningful work
•  47% are interested in access to executives and mentorship
•  California, New York, and Florida are three of the top states for finding college talent

Do any of these statistics surprise you? Check out the full infographic below, and share your thoughts in the comments area.

What are your thoughts? Have you experienced these trends — as an intern or as an employer?

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Career Moves: An Unconventional Payoff

“Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every door.” -Emily Dickinson

I sat along the far front corner of the partner’s desk, trying not to sulk in the chair. This particular partner, an attractive Chinese woman in her mid-30’s, sat quietly behind her desk while she studied my professional profile like an archeologist attempting to decipher an ancient scroll. She even put her glasses on at one point. The partner’s sister — also a partner, and just as attractive but a few years younger — smiled at me like I was a special child about to get on the short bus for the very first time.

They asked me a series of questions about my experience and skills. They finally warmed up to me as we continued to talk about career aspirations, Silicon Valley, VC’s and HR-related tech startups.

Finally the older sister took her glasses off and said, “You know, you’re very unconventional. You’ve done a lot over time, and have been quite diverse in a short time, especially on paper. Now you’ve engaged with us to help give it all context. And it’s a pleasure, by the way. But still, it’s hard to put you in a…bucket. You know?”

I do. And so do many others who have carved and crafted their way into unconventionality by learning new skills, making career transitions, job hopping, consulting, freelancing, starting business endeavors and any combination thereof.

Professional Mobility Goes Mainstream

Nancy Friedberg, president of New York City executive coaching firm Career Leverage, recently said in a Fortune article, “Partly because of all the economic instability lately, and partly due to the entry of Gen Y into the workforce, people increasingly see themselves as free agents. It’s all about the portfolio of skills you bring, not loyalty or security. Moving around has become the new norm.”

This was a recent candidate experience I had with an executive search firm in Silicon Valley. Lovely, smart women who knew their business and understood the power of the professional skill portfolio. But as I noted earlier this week, we are naturally stalwart creatures of comfort and habit. Talent selection, mobility and succession planning have long been determined primarily by literally matching hard skills and experience to a job description, and of course gut instinct.

This is not to disparage any search professional working today, but saying that talent strategies should focus on hard skills is no longer enough. The softer skills — communication, empathy, team-building — are just as integral to selection and development, if not more so. The partners I met with understood this and made it clear during our conversation.

Looking at Talent Through New Eyes

This week on #TChat Radio, Josh Bersin emphasized the importance of looking at human capital management challenges through a more strategic, holistic lens. Rather than emphasizing the need for hard skills alone, high-impact organizations seek people with a full spectrum of capabilities — and develop both hard and soft skills. As organizations reinforce and expand these combined capabilities in real-time, and provide flexible context that responds to workforce competencies, we can expect talent selection, talent mobility and business performance to improve.

Those of us who pursue unconventional paths should take heart – it seems the tide is turning in our direction. If only unconventionality paid better, right? Actually, for the progressive individuals and companies propelling themselves and the enterprise forward, it does.

I’ll tell you more about my new bucket soon…

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Leveraging Your Career Culture

Developing Good Career Habits Early on Will Serve the Rest of Your Career.

Even the most mundane, front-line roles – whether doling out room keys as a front-desk motel clerk or dishing up burritos and serving beer at your local Mexican restaurant – are of value, not just to the customer, but to you, in developing your career reputation.

You may perceive your early roles as mainly a means to an end; e.g., for college students, jobs often tie directly to paying for textbooks, entertainment and basic living expenses while you prepare for your ‘real’ job. Therefore, you miss prime opportunities to create shiny, bankable career coins. By making regular deposits, you can nurture a positive reputation and network of career advocates that will help shepherd you to more meaningful roles.

I encourage all early careerists to realize that, whether you are 18, 25 or 45, each job in your career arsenal is potentially bankable and, if you attend to it with enthusiasm and as a problem-solving, customer-focused contributor, you can build a career-propelling resume, and as a result, the career to which you aspire.

March Madness, a Motel and a Mexican Meal

In a recent trip to Lake Texoma (Texas), my husband, Rob, and I played the role of customer in a series of initiatives that reinforced for us the value and impact of early-career, front-line staff members.

In one example, 30 minutes outside of Durant, Oklahoma, we vetted pet-friendly motels and dialed the Comfort Inn.

“We have no rooms for the night, Mr. Poindexter,” explained the youthful motel clerk. “In fact,” she asserted excitedly, “It’s March Madness, so you won’t find a room from here to Atoka!”

Frustrated by her sweeping response, but undeterred, we called the Days Inn, which was just across the street, and were met with a prompt and amenable, “Yes, we have rooms available!”

We instantly booked an overnight for two adults and one pet.

Rob and I were curious that the first motel clerk snapped to a conclusion that, essentially, we were out of luck in finding a room for the night in her city, or the neighboring town. Rather than take a moment of her time and suggest a possible alternative solution (such as the name of another motel in the area), in effect, she waved us off.

Checked into the Days Inn, we ambled over to a Mexican restaurant. This was a clean, calm venue that was underwhelmed by customers and appeared to have more than a sufficient ratio of wait staff to diners. A friendly young server approached us, and, though sweet, she was a bit sluggish in tending to our needs. It was as if she was on ‘island time;’ yet, there was no island, no ocean, no pleasant sea breeze to distract while we awaited our orders.

The first issue occurred when my dinner order was misinterpreted. After we alerted the server, she swept away the dish, along with all silverware, and the new meal perfunctorily was placed before me. We scrambled to locate replacement utensils.

Next, we ordered a Corona Light, which they had run out of; rather than being proactive and presenting us an alternative option, the server reflexively returned to our table empty-handed.

Moreover, throughout the dining experience, we were met with casual regard, and whether seeking out a missing set of silverware, a replacement for a wrongly delivered dinner or a substitute beverage, the minutes ticked by, and the onus, therefore, was on us, to direct our server to fulfill our needs.

In both of these instances, these young ladies overlooked opportunities to build value with us, and possibly expand their career reputation that could benefit them down the road.

Leveraging Your Ordinary Job to Create Extraordinary Career Value

No matter how lowly or ordinary the job may seem, it’s important to create your career culture early. Even though Rob and I realized the people serving us were probably not earning a lot of money, we were still the customer and were expecting good service.

Rest assured, careerists, though your simple gestures of problem-solving and customer care may seem small, in and of themselves, cumulatively they will sell your future value, and you never know whom you may meet who not only cares about how much you care, but who will also care enough to extend your message beyond the four walls of your diner, motel or other service arena and help lift your career goals to a new level. The impact, therefore, of your simple gestures, can be exponentially valuable to your overall career goals, and help you to be the culture you desire to attract.

So, your reputation builds and customer advocates multiply while your strategic problem-solving, customer service, leadership skills and talents also become more honed. Ultimately, your resume story becomes robust and compelling, advancing your career satisfaction and culture!


Higher Ed? Degree of Experience Counts #TChat Recap

Remember in the 1970’s when the tech world was still in its infancy and engineers and developers walked in off the streets without college degrees?

And then again in the late 1990’s during the boom if you had any Web HTML experience and a pulse?

Ah, the good ol’ days when demand exceeded supply. Actually, the good ol’ anomalies, because for most of the recruiting and HR hiring pros of the world, a college degree tends to trump experience more often than not.

Not necessarily the name brand of the college, but the fact that you went to an accredited university and received the degree, in hand (not coming up 3 units short).

Of course that will vary from industry to company to position, but ask any recruiter today filling most if not all “technical” and “knowledge worker” reqs — you’ve got to have a college degree.

During last night’s #TChat, which was all about higher ed and what was more important — a degree or experience, veteran recruiter and co-founder of TruEvents Bill Boorman wrote, “The University of Life and the School of Hard Knocks has served me well.”

Many of us can attest to that. I know I do (and still do). But as I mentioned last night, I’m very proud of my college degree. I didn’t have the traditional college experience; I was working full-time already when I finally finished my undergrad and started (but haven’t finished, yet) grad school. I worked my butt off to complete my degree in psychology, owning every minute of every class and every world of every paper written until I walked proudly into the stadium in cap and gown on graduation day.

In a sense the University of Life started while I was still attending San Jose State University. Go Spartans!

So for me, when it comes to higher ed it’s the degree “of” experience, not the either “or”. Higher ed should inspire and light the inner fire. And the other way around. Employers should aspire to do the same when they recruit, hire and onboard because it’s good for business.

As for the ever-rising costs of higher ed, that’s a post for another time (although all the smart folks participating last night shared many insights).

A special thank you to Matt Charney for running the show and for his special guest Mark Kantrowitz.

Here were the questions from last night’s #TChat (you can read the transcript here):

  • Q1: Which matters more (and why) to Jobseekers/Recruiters: what your degree is in or which school it’s from? Answer J or R.
  • Q2: Should the goal of higher ed be to prepare students for the job market or to develop intellectual capabilities? Why?
  • Q3: What are some creative ways Employers can partner with Universities on talent identification and development?
  • Q4: Do student loans/debt impact employee productivity/performance? Can/should employers develop payback/performance incentives?
  • Q5: What are some ways, either direct or indirect, to offset the rising costs of college?
  • Q6: Are degrees from for-profit, online or foreign schools the same as traditional degrees as a hiring consideration?
  • Q7: Is going back to school for a professional degree a career booster or disruptor?

See you next week. Same time. Same place. #TChat every Tuesday evening 8-9 pm ET/5-6 pm PT