Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals
Freeport-McMoRan Inc., a mining company headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, requires its managers to conduct two evaluations of their interns throughout the summer. Hiring decisions for both full-time positions and return internships are based in large part on these evaluations, which include a competency and performance rating system the company has developed.
In Freeport-McMoRan’s system, there are five ratings—outstanding, strong, solid, developing, and unacceptable—for each competency. Managers evaluate their interns at the mid-summer point and at the end of the internship on competencies and assignments such as technical knowledge, problem-solving, communication, safety, company/culture fit, team/interpersonal, work adaptability/flexibility, job compatibility, and motivation/initiative.
Once each of the nine metrics are evaluated, an overall performance result is determined for each intern. Interns who are rated “solid” and above overall are eligible for either full-time employment or return internships as long as there is business need.
“We started using this system to allow for a more comprehensive evaluation,” explains Betsy Johnson, college recruiting supervisor, who notes that the company implemented the rating system in 2012.
“This has helped our operations by standardizing the process, which allows all our interns—regardless of discipline or location—to be evaluated fairly and given equal consideration for a full-time employment or a return internship offer. While we ideally try to offer full-time positions to ‘outstanding’ students and then go down the list from there, sometimes it comes down to their graduation date and their location flexibility.”
For example, Johnson notes, Freeport-McMoRan might have an “outstanding” student who graduates in May 2020 and is only interested in four of the company’s locations. However, the company has an immediate need to fill a position at a location in which the intern did not indicate interest. In this case, Freeport-McMoRan may offer that role to a “strong” or “solid” candidate who fits the position’s criteria.
“The number of interns hired each summer is decided by department leadership and is based on projected business need, as well as anticipated attrition,” Johnson says.
“We believe constant feedback throughout the course of the internship period is key. Students should know where they stand by the end of the internship. We also offer return internships to graduating students if we feel they performed well, but could benefit from another internship or if we do not have enough full-time opportunities to offer. The objective is to hire enough interns to fill anticipated regular full-time positions and extend return internship offers.”
Last summer, Freeport-McMoRan had 287 interns; 124 of them received offers of full-time employment, while 51 did not receive an offer. Among those who received a full-time offer, 108—or 87 percent—accepted.
The company also extended offers for return internships to 102 of its interns, while 10 interns did not receive such an offer. Of those interns who received an offer to return to Freeport-McMoRan for another internship, 65—or 63 percent—accepted.
Johnson says that an internship program is an effective way to develop a pipeline of future employees.
“A successful internship program takes hard work and planning, and involves many engaged participants,” she says.
“Managers and mentors play a key role in the success of the program. Daily interaction, involvement, and communicating with the interns on areas of success and areas of improvement is vital. Transparency is crucial. If an intern is not performing to the company’s standard, it is important they are made aware and given the opportunity and tools to improve.”