Internship Roundup: Intern Conversion, Duration, Housing, and Fall/Spring Programs

September 13, 2021 | By Kevin Gray

Bunch of flyers on board

TAGS: best practices, compensation, Internships, nace insights, operations, talent acquisition,

Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals

In recent weeks, talent acquisition professionals have provided insight on topics around internships—such as converting interns to FTEs, internship duration, intern housing, and fall/spring internships—in the NACE Community. Here is a roundup of the information and ideas they have shared:

  • Conversion to FTEs—One organization noted that its teams may convert interns to FTEs by transfers. The interns do not interview or apply for the FTE role, and there is no competing applicant pool. Once conversion is approved, the intern simply transfers in the HR management system from their temporary role to their new permanent role. The recruiting team works with the hiring manager and HR partner to determine compensation, start date, relocation bonus (if eligible), and more. The organization tries to complete these conversions before the end of the summer program. If teams need more time, they are allowed to extend the internship. The organization makes sure to keep the intern active to avoid the loss of system access and generation of a new background check.

  • Internship duration—While there was no consensus on a standard duration of summer internship programs, there did seem to be some general agreement that longer—between 10 and 12 weeks—is better. However, one respondent whose organization, which partners with global employers, has found that eight-week internships work best for the students in its program. This duration, she says, allows time for students to finish up their spring semester and for employers to have a short vacation before internships begin. On the other hand, responding organizations with 11- and 12-week summer programs feel that duration allows interns enough time to complete their projects, attend events, network, and learn about the organization and their business group. No matter their duration, another respondent points out, internship programs need to be long enough to give the students “real exposure to the company, and the company [real exposure] to them.”

  • Intern housing—One company offers interns relocation assistance if they live more than 50 miles from their office location. A program manager within HR works with a vendor to manage intern housing. The company also reimburses travel up to $750 and puts interns up in an extended stay hotel. Another employer offers all interns student housing. If interns are located at a corporate office, they are housed at a local university in a four-bed apartment with other interns. If they are located at a plant, they are offered a lump sum and assistance from a rental services firm to find summer housing. Both these respondents report that the relocation assistance they provide to their interns is in addition to the interns’ wages has no impact on their hourly rate. A career services practitioner also weighed in and said that, in her experience, it works best when a company gives interns a housing stipend that is not deducted from the rate of pay the intern receives and lets them decide where to live. She recommends the organization provide a list of properties that would work well for interns, especially if the organization is recruiting interns who are not local.

  • Fall/spring internship programs—A program manager in university recruiting says that her company runs a small fall/spring internship program and shared several key lessons they learned from that experience as compared to a summer internship program:

    • Student availability—In fall/spring, interns work 16 to 20 hours/week, and have schedule flexibility. Sometimes, 20 hours/week is too ambitious because of the students’ course load. The organization has had interns work as few as 12 hours/week, but has found that such a schedule provides little return value to the business.
    • Program duration—The organization’s summer session is 40 hours/week for 11 weeks. During fall and spring, it reduces hours for 13 weeks, in most cases. This allows most students to start the week after their classes start and conclude the internship ahead of finals.
    • Program size—The fall/spring program tends to be about 25% the size of the summer program. About 50% of the organization’s spring/fall interns are returners from the summer internship program, which is by design to keep top performers engaged.
    • Recruiting—The organization finds it tricky to recruit fall interns. To decide if they will pursue an internship, students need to have an understanding of their course load and schedule. That often doesn't happen until the end of the spring semester or during the summer, which means the organization is trying to recruit students while they may be interning elsewhere. It is very hard to get attention then. Usually, the firm builds the pipeline long in advance (fall of the previous year) to make sure students are aware. The company finds it easier to recruit interns for the spring program, as the company recruits students at the beginning of fall. Because students are also focused on summer internships at that time, it makes for a much easier for the organization to create this 2-for-1 recruiting cycle.

Do you have ideas to share or want more information about internship programs? Join the discussion in the NACE Community.