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  • Intern Satisfaction the Key to Conversion

    June 01, 2020 | By NACE Staff

    A friendly coworker helps a company intern.

    TAGS: best practices, internships, operations, spotlight, coronavirus

    Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals

    Intern conversion is a business imperative at all times, but especially in the current job market, when many organizations respond to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic by shrinking programs and budgets.

    Employers converted 55.5 percent of their interns from the Class of 2019 into full-time, entry-level hires, according to results of the 2020 Internship & Co-op Survey Report. (See Figure 1.) However, it is important to consider the timing of the survey. Data collection for the survey took place from November 6, 2019, to February 7, 2020, meaning responses were submitted before the coronavirus crisis escalated into a pandemic and may not reflect the situation’s full impact on operations. Still, it is important to understand where employers were as they plan for the “new normal” in the college recruiting field.

    What works when converting interns into full-time hires? Of course, a student’s satisfaction with an internship is paramount. Results from a NACE study of student attitudes, behaviors, and preferences suggest that interns who were satisfied with their internship experience were 5.08 times more likely to accept an off­er from their internship employer.

    NACE dove deeper into this in its 2019 Student Survey by using students’ responses on the specific aspects of their internship to predict if they were also satisfied with their experience and likely to accept a full-time offer from the same employer. (Figure 2 provides the odds ratios from these regressions.)

    As explained in an article in the February 2020 issue of the NACE Journal, an odds ratio provides the likelihood of an event occurring relative to another event (or non-event). Therefore, if interns thought their co-workers were helpful and friendly, they were almost 14 times more likely to say their experience was very or extremely satisfying, and they were 3.3 times more likely to accept a full-time offer from the same employer.

    Employers should use these findings to focus their energies on improving these aspects of the internship —which do translate into the virtual workplace—so interns feel their experience was satisfying and are more willing to accept an offer.

    Survey participants can access the 2020 Internship & Co-op Survey Report in MyNACE; an executive summary of the report is available in the NACE Store.

    Figure 1: Intern conversion rates, 2016-20

      2020 2019 2018 2017 2016
    Interns 55.5% 56.1% 45.6% 51.3% 61.9%
    Source: 2020 Internship & Co-op Survey Report, National Association of Colleges and Employers

    Figure 2: Evaluations of internship experience

      Agree Odds Ratios for
    Likelihood of Intern
    Odds Ratios for
    Likelihood of
    Accepting Offer From
    Same Employer
    Unpaid Paid Overall    
    Friendly/helpful co-workers 92.8% 90.3% 90.8% 13.93 3.34
    Had mentor 75.4% 75.5% 75.5% 7.34 2.55
    Had meaningful duties 62.9% 60.8% 62.6% 7.11 2.21
    Want career in same industry 62.8% 58.4% 61.3% 6.91 8.25
    Paid fairly 9.9% 83.0% 49.1% 2.29 1.46
    Source: 2020 Internship & Co-op Survey Report, National Association of Colleges and Employers