This post was provided by Claudia Allen, writer and editor at the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). NACE connects campus recruiting and career services professionals, and provides best practices, trends, research, professional development, and conferences.

For many employers, their internship programs are their entry-level hire pipelines. Successful interns are offered full-time positions based on how well they performed and how well they fit the company. The internship itself is just a very long interview, and the student is applying for a full-time position through their performance.

According to research by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers made full-time offers to 56.5 percent of their interns. Approximately 85.6 percent of those offers were accepted.

Employers with better-than-average rates of converting interns to full-time hires—64 percent and up—report the keys to their successful intern-to-hire programs are:

  • Offering real work assignments. Interns have a job description and a project to work on. Real work is what students look for when they apply for internships and employers reap the long-term benefits in training their future work force through internships.
  • Helping the intern find a good fit within the company culture. First-hand exposure to the corporate culture helps students get to know the corporate brand, how the company does business, and how co-workers treat each other.
  • Paying the intern competitive wages. A paycheck opens the door to a wider applicant pool and shows interns that their time and skills are valued. It also eliminates the possibility of legal issues for the employer.

Employers with successful internship programs and conversion rates also follow an “early and often” philosophy. They find interns in the fall and offer full-time positions at the end of those internships or early in the recruiting season. Employers that have invested 10 to 12 weeks of training in their interns don’t want to lose that talent.

To solidify the relationship between employer and new employee, successful organizations reach out to their interns and new hires frequently between hire and start dates.

Employers who hired these new graduates from within their own internship programs retained almost 89 percent of these hires after one year. After five years, about 73 percent of hires from a company’s own program continued to work for their employer.

Learn more about building a successful internship program at NACEWeb,

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