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Each IMPACT Awards season, I am always impressed to see the number of Intern of the Year nominations that either mention the employer offering the intern a full-time position, or that the employer plans to offer the intern a permanent position after they graduate.

From the intern who strove to finish his case study with zero errors, to the intern who helped complete a large IT project two months ahead of schedule, employers are realizing that some of their best talent lies within their internship program. And, with Indiana’s unemployment rate being close to zero, this couldn’t be a better time for that realization.

According to Glassdoor, it takes the average U.S. employer 24 days to hire a new employee. By using an internship program as a talent pipeline, companies wouldn’t have to worry about that waiting period to fill entry-level positions. Plus, internships are a trial period that can help prevent making a bad hiring decision. Employers are able to see how an intern fits within the company on a skills and cultural level without obligation of keeping them long term. Interns are also able to discover if they’d want to permanently work for that company without the commitment that comes along with a career.

This trial period can help reduce turn over. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ 2018 Internship & Co-op Survey Report, the retention rate for intern hires with internal experience is 70.6 percent. The less hiring employers have to do, the better because it’s expensive! According to Glassdoor, it costs about $4,000 to bring on a new hire.

As the competition for qualified talent increases, if your company doesn’t have a formal internship program, I strongly urge you to consider one. Check out our Employer’s Guide to Internships to help you develop one. Our free guide is full of best practices, advice, a sample internship description and printable forms for you to structure your program.

If your company does have a formal internship program, but either rarely or never offers full-time positions to your interns, see if there could be opportunities for growth. Maybe you aren’t offering internships in the fields that see the highest amount of turn over, or maybe you’ve never considered an intern being an option to fill a permanent role.

Finally, if your company has an internship program and often hires interns into full-time roles, have you thought about reaching out to students earlier? Some companies aren’t waiting until students reach college to start their talent pipeline. High school internships are becoming increasingly popular. There are even some organizations delivering presentations and offering tours to elementary and middle school students. They’re finding that the students they connect with today could be a full-time hire in the future.

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