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Interns can be a great way for companies to bring on top-tier talent and coach them into being rockstar team members. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, in 2014 61% of graduating seniors had an internship lined up, with over half of those respondents reporting they had a full-time job lined up with the company afterward. This practice makes sense as the intern already has a grasp on the business culture and procedure, with all that’s needed is a little coaching to get to that knowledge base. However, this process isn’t always as easy as it seems.

A common challenge with internship programs is bringing on those who are committed to your firm and have the skillset to complete the tasks efficiently, as well as coming up with criteria to accurately gauge their performance. And although some folks might say that it’s more of a gut feeling than anything else, having a system like SuccessFactors in place can save you tremendously in this process. Here’s why:

It Starts With The Search

Finding top quality interns can be a difficult challenge for any business. After all, the entire point of an internship program is to develop talent that will one day become full-time employees, but setting criteria for development can be hard to distinguish. On one end, you don’t want to be too stringent as it limits the pool of talent that could potentially be beneficial. On the other hand, if your search is too broad, a number of candidates might not be up to par with what you’re looking for. However, with SuccessFactors’, you can help hone in on your search with the specific qualities you’re after.

One of the first sets of criteria you need to establish is the technical experience that can’t be replicated. This includes hard skills such as working with programs like Excel or PhotoShop. Additionally, any experience they’ve listed from broader categories such as “marketing” needs to be boiled down to the primary functions of that position. For example, you can have someone that’s a self-described marketer that primarily did content or someone that was a wizard at SEO. These credentials will help in deciphering the type of intern you’re trying to bring on, as well as defining what they can do for your business.

After your candidate pool is compiled, it’s time to start on vetting them in person. From here, it’s time to look through any common mistakes made in the interview process, such as misrepresenting themselves or showing up late. While these are procedures some would mark as common sense, you’d be surprised at how some of the most talented people act. Overall, the goal here is to find a cultural fit as we’re building them up to stay long-term.

Cultivating Talent

Once a fit is established, it’s time to start the onboarding process, which is one of the most pivotal points in if an intern is going to be successful or not. Granted, there’s going to be a learning curve, but coming up with educational objectives and a reasonable timeframe for completion is just as much your responsibility to create as it is theirs to finish. Your best bet is to consult with department specific leadership in assessing what needs to be learned and how much time you’re willing to allocate towards those tasks.

A significant portion of utilizing the talent development features in SuccessFactors boils down to blending both skills that are a part of your everyday process as well as potential new skills that your intern can bring to the business. For example, if your intern is up on the latest and greatest in SEO or content marketing, then it might be good to gauge their performance on how much those new abilities impact your business versus the time frame in learning new tasks. Remember, our objective is to set benchmarks that show how well they’re integrating with your program, with the aim of keeping a consistent workflow.

Keeping The Workflow Consistent

Perhaps the best part about using SuccessFactors is how you’re able to plan out every element of the intern experience with the goal of full-time employment in mind. This includes utilizing the tools that will establish a workflow level that’s not too overwhelming while simultaneously helping them grow. Eventually, when they graduate along to being a long-term member of your team, you’ll be able to reduce turnover and increase retention by rewarding them for their success.

Having interns can be a great way to cultivate talent into a part of your team for years to come. How will you use SuccessFactors to help establish and run a great intern program?

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