Corporate Eye

Forging New Networks: Facilitating Intern Interaction

intern-networkThe relationship between interns and full-time staff is well known and well documented and there’s a distinct learning relationship that both firms and interns really value during their time in any company.

For the intern, however, this certainly isn’t the whole story and feedback from interns often shows that the most valuable relationships are those which are formed between the interns themselves. It’s hardly surprising that interns in the same firm get together to share stories, thoughts and the occasional drink, but it is surprising that many firms aren’t always too facilitating to inter-intern interactions.

Developing Firm-wide Connections
Though some inter-intern relations are purely social, there’s a very good business case for encouraging quality interactions between young graduates. Normally there isn’t much demand for more than one intern in any department and, thus, when interns mix, they’re able to discuss practice, talk about working culture and share advice from different areas of your business.

This information is not only invaluable to each individual department in comparing and matching up its progress against others, it’s also great for strengthening inter-departmental relationships. It’s all too easy for new recruits to get comfortable in their own departments, but by interacting from the off with other parts of the business, interns can begin business life as well connected and well aware of the potential of the whole business.

Connecting Outside of Your Firm
Equally, not all interns will stay with your firm when graduation time comes and though this isn’t great for your retention figures, it can be a tangible advantage when it comes to actually doing business. If one of your interns graduates and then starts off with ties to other interns who moved into, say, accounts, banking and project management, it’s a connection that’s there to be exploited later.

It’s also worth remembering that most interns can talk a lot and will be more than happy to share their experiences. Providing their time at your company was positive, a good network of connections all over the country can be a great recruitment tool for your department in the future.

Harnessing Good Relationships
Interactions between interns are great, but if your business isn’t working to harness them, they might as well not be there. There’s a fine line between stifling any genuine interaction by being too rigid and organising too many compulsory after-hours events and missing the boat all together.

One very simple way to keep interactions strong is to use social media to great effect. Encourage the use of LinkedIn and highlight the importance of networking and also don’t be afraid to set up (and monitor) a Facebook group for arranging meetings and sharing ideas. It’s simple, it keeps interaction honest and businesslike and, best of all, it’s free!

If you’re taking on more than one intern this summer, make sure they’re not isolated. Ties that are formed with other interns can last for many years: be sure to use them to your advantage!

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Tom Goodsir

Tom started his career early; taking on an associate role at Deloitte just a few days after his eighteenth birthday, working in a technical role but with a focus on identifying and recruiting talented undergraduates. He is now entering his final year at Exeter University and he continues to work with the recruitment side of the firm and remains an active brand ambassador on campus. Over the last few years, Tom has spent time building up a reputation as a freelance writer and has developed both a strong client base and good knowledge of social media along the way. Though there’s still plenty to learn, experience working in both the smallest and the largest of businesses has served him well and given him a feel for balancing strong corporate ideas with a personal tone. As a student, Tom is able to offer a valuable insight into the way graduate recruitment works from the other side and how students and interns react to particular styles of marketing and recruitment. Eventually he hopes to take off his copywriting business before embarking on an MA in philosophy.