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  • Keeping Interns Engaged Remotely

    May 05, 2020 | By NACE Staff

    An intern at Campbell Soup Company chats virtually with other interns during the lunch hour.

    TAGS: best practices, internships, operations, nace insights, coronavirus

    Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals

    Campbell Soup Company has forged its internship program into a key vehicle that prepares college talent for essential roles within the organization. Despite the current environment, the company is committed to continuing the program and has taken it virtual where possible.

    This shift, however, has not altered the focus of the program.

    “We employ a continuous-growth mindset to broaden and deepen our existing knowledge, innovation, and talent base,” says Vaughn Brown, talent experience manager, inclusion, diversity, and university programs, at Campbell.

    “Through a diverse campus internship and co-op program that can lead to full-time opportunities, we are creating a pipeline of talented people, which will provide a competitive advantage to the program participants and the company.”

    Brown explains that Campbell finds it extremely important to build strong connections with candidates from the very beginning. The company has increased and taken a tailored approach to communication with its interns.

    “We have been in direct contact with all of our interns throughout this process,” Brown notes.

    “Keeping strong connectivity with candidates throughout their hiring process creates the first essential ingredient to growing an engaging and strong relationship with future employees. University recruiting operates as a bridge to connect our interns to other areas to broaden interns’ knowledge of the business, which has presented the interns with additional platforms to collaborate.”

    Brown says that Campbell is expanding its interns’ networks within the organization, which enhances their experience. In locations where its associates are working from home, Campbell has developed virtual engagement plans with a structured cadence of check-ins to ensure interns feel connected to the business.

    “We have set up virtual forums so we can encourage our interns to network with each other,” he notes.

    “The university team has also increased communication with the direct supervisors of interns to ensure they have all the tools they need to drive a successful program. Our culture thrives through the relationships we establish with each other. To support this, we are encouraging our teams to use video capabilities when possible.”

    Brown shares several recommendations for keeping interns engaged remotely:

    • Install structured communication and check-ins to include the intern’s direct supervisor, members of your intern’s work group, and leaders in other areas of the business.
    • Virtual coffee chats and lunch meet and greets are just a couple of fun and simple solutions to install additional touchpoints into your programs. Also, remember to include fun and engaging ways to connect your interns to each other.
    • Offer virtual trivia, virtual Pictionary, or do an online scavenger hunt where interns can learn your intranet system through activity.

    “It is also important to consider those who will be mentors and direct managers of your interns,” Brown says.

    “Provide tips and resources to your leaders to ensure they are also set up for success and comfortable to engage talent virtually as this may be a new experience for them too.”

    Brown says that frequent and customized engagement has helped keep Campbell’s internship program robust despite shifting certain functions to virtual.

    “We have found it essential to keep the lines of communication strong and flowing in both directions,” he notes.

    “It has been meaningful for our interns to receive individualized and direct communication from the team. We understand that some of our candidates have unique circumstances and that has shaped our approach to welcoming intern talent onto our team.”