Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals
Alcon Talent Acquisition offers a signing bonus to interns and co-ops who meet certain criteria for housing to avoid the fall-out of top candidates because of housing concerns and expand its recruitment focus beyond local colleges and universities. Doing so also boosts Alcon’s candidate experience by easing some of the stress associated with relocating to a new area.
“Our hiring managers are encouraged and have budgetary discretion to offer a sign-on bonus if the [intern’s or co-op’s] relocation is more than 50 miles to align with IRS guidelines,” explains Hanh Demma, head of university relations at Alcon, a Novartis Division.
Alcon’s internship program lasts between 10 and 12 weeks from late May to early August. Meanwhile, the co-op program is available primarily at Alcon’s manufacturing sites where students work in various aspects of manufacturing such as engineering, quality, and validation. These programs are key components of the organization’s college recruitment efforts.
“Both programs provide real-world impact and work experience to students where they can demonstrate their potential through meaningful and relevant work assignments, professional development sessions, professional networking sessions with business leaders, and social networking opportunities,” Demma says.
In a typical year, Alcon hires about 100 interns and about 50 co-ops. Approximately, 50 percent of these students relocate for these positions.
Alcon requires select interns to sign a repayment clause addressing certain conditions. These interns and co-ops then receive the signing bonus within their first 30 days of employment. Bonus amounts vary based on location and budget, and are paid in one sum that typically equates to between $300 and $500 per month. Alcon also partners with a service that provides support and solutions for students to locate short-term housing and roommates.
The company assesses the effectiveness of this initiative through end-of-term surveys with its interns and co-ops. Results have been positive.
Demma has several recommendations for companies considering offering a signing bonus to interns and co-ops to help offset their relocation expenses:
- Engage others in the process—Partner with your organization’s relocation department on strategies, recommendations, and best practices.
- Provide additional support—In addition to offering a sign on, also have other resources available to students for short-term housing (apartments or local college dorms), roommate matching, and more.
“Also, consider the timing,” she adds. “If your organization is unable to offer a sign on and/or doesn’t have resources for housing/roommates, make offers to the students at least 60 days in advance of them commencing their internship to allow them as much time as possible to find housing.”