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  • Strong Intern Ties Nets Kellogg’s High Conversion Rate

    March 19, 2018 | By NACE Staff

    Internships
    A mentor works with an intern at Kellogg's.

    TAGS: best practices, internships, conversion, onboarding, spotlight

    Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals

    In 2017, Kellogg Company hired 74 interns into its summer internship program. Among this group, the company converted 66 percent of eligible interns (31 of 47 eligible students) to full-time employees.

    “Our intern conversion rates have been steadily increasing since the launch of our Kellogg summer intern program in 2012,” says Niki Ramirez, Kellogg university relations.

    In fact, the intern conversion rates have climbed from 46 percent in 2014 to 60 percent in 2016 before last year’s program high.

    Ramirez credits Kellogg’s strong commitment to developing the next generation of talent and growing leaders from within for the success of its internship program. (For a view of Kellogg’s internship program from the interns’ perspective, see this video.)

    “The Kellogg intern program provides students with a robust introduction to the company and a true training ground for making meaningful contributions to the business,” she says. “Hiring from our internship program has multiple benefits.”

    Ramirez says these benefits include:  

    • Providing top entry-level talent with proven success at the organization who can smoothly transition into full-time positions.
    • Investing in individuals who have a passion for Kellogg’s business, brands, and values.

    “The strategy behind the Kellogg intern program is to recruit top, diverse talent from top university programs and institutions for the purpose of building Kellogg’s next generation of leaders,” Ramirez explains. “We seek to provide a robust, hands-on experience that will enable and drive long-term business objectives.”

    She says that before an area can be approved to host an intern, there must first be a commitment from functional leadership to hire high-performing students into the organization.

    “The very premise of our program is to successfully pipeline students into full-time positions and early career development opportunities,” Ramirez notes.

    When hiring interns, Kellogg recruiters seek students who:

    • Have humility;
    • Are hungry to learn;
    • Are smart;
    • Are teachable; and
    • Are passionate about its business, brands, and foods.

    “Each function has specific skill sets and interests that they look for as well, whether it is IT, marketing, design, product development and more,” Ramirez says.

    “We also seek students who uphold our Kellogg values. We are looking to hire students for more than a job, but rather, to grow them for a career. Across our business, the common denominator is our people. As W.K. Kellogg, our founder, once said, ‘I’ll invest my money in people.’ We recognize that it is truly our people who make Kellogg a great place to work. Once the interns are on site, this continues to hold true.”

    Additionally, Kellogg recruiters look for individuals who take the initiative and are proactive about the work ahead of them.

    “We treat our interns like the Kellogg employees they are and give them work that is tied to real business needs,” Ramirez points out. “We want to see them approach challenges with enthusiasm, not afraid to make mistakes, but rather willing to share their perspective as that is precisely the reason we hired them.”

    One of the key aspects of Kellogg’s internship program—its onboarding process—starts the moment a student is identified for an offer.

    “We want to create a complete and meaningful candidate experience for these students so that onboarding embodies the Kellogg culture and excites the student for the experience that he or she has ahead,” Ramirez says.

    Kellogg has a private LinkedIn group to connect students once they have accepted its offer, hosts pre-internship webinars, and sends Kellogg goodies to help welcome students to the team. Once the internship starts in May, the company hosts all of its interns at its world headquarters in Battle Creek, Michigan, for a two-day orientation event, during which senior leadership welcomes them to the organization.

    “Students have the opportunity to network with one another and get to know the company so they will be set up for success for the summer,” Ramirez says. “This includes an overview of our Kellogg history, a tour of our pilot plant, an introduction to our corporate social responsibility efforts, pictures with Tony the Tiger, and much more.”

    Kellogg works hard to strengthen its connections to students during their internships, hopefully making converting them to full-time employees easier. To do this, Kellogg holds a variety of events for its interns, including a project showcase at the end of the summer that highlights to leadership the interns’ contributions to the business, exposure to product development opportunities, a Day of Caring as an intern class, K Values award recognitions, an #InternAtK social media photo contest, and much more.

    “Additionally, we seek to provide clear and transparent expectations around the offer process, performance reviews, and what to expect after the internship concludes,” Ramirez says. “During the internship experience, we want to connect our students to the heart and soul of the company and know they have internal advocates with whom they can connect regarding any questions they have as graduation approaches. We continue to engage with them even after their internship until they start with us full time.”

    This engagement includes maintaining contact once interns return to campus. During that time, Kellogg engages students in a variety of ways to stay top of mind, such as by personal communication via e-mail or phone; participation in Kellogg’s campus ambassador program through which interns can champion Kellogg to their classmates as they prepare for their full-time role with the company; and gift packages that may include Kellogg t-shirts, swag, or food.

    Kellogg is vigilant about assessing the effectiveness of its internship program, as Ramirez notes that “Metrics are key to the success of our internship program.” Kellogg collects program metrics as well as anonymous exit survey feedback from interns and intern managers.

    “Our conversion rate and our acceptance rate tell important stories,” she says. “In 2017, our conversion rate was 66 percent and our acceptance rate was 81 percent. It’s great to see that the students who are receiving offers are accepting them and are excited to return as full-time employees.”

    In addition, Ramirez points out that year over year, Kellogg receives feedback from its exit survey that 100 percent of its interns would recommend the Kellogg internship program to their friends and classmates. 

    “Our Kellogg internship program is a collaborative effort that is championed by our senior leadership and supported throughout the entire organization,” she says. “There is a passion for the students and for developing the next generation of talent that permeates the program, driving the personalized experience for each student that engages our interns as part of the Kellogg family.”