An excerpt from Accounting Today’s article by Richard Stanger and Carolyn Carlson, Winning the War for Talent.
It’s a win-win for both your firm and candidates: firms that offer summer internships get to lock up great candidates early and the candidates can secure a permanent job before their senior year. That’s why the best approach is to have a strong summer internship program for post junior-year candidates. The program should be highly selective, possibly for only a few top candidates. It starts by identifying candidates during their junior-year and actively engaging them in conversations about your firm – the “sell” on what make your firm unique.
The key to a great program is to give the interns’ meaningful work and partner exposure. Yes, this is a big investment. Fortunately, it comes at a time of year when the spring busy season pressures are over. Social events are also important, but they shouldn’t be the centerpiece of the program.
The centerpiece of the program is giving the interns real work to do creating the desire for them to want to work for your firm based on actual work that they did. This requires partners, directors and senior managers to identify work that can be performed during the summer and committing to sponsor an intern. Work can include such things as client planning sessions (particularly support for fall busy season work moved to the summer to lighten compression) and assisting with marketing events. The program should be time-boxed to 6 to 8 weeks, so that white-space is avoided as much as possible. A hiring evaluation should be completed for each intern by the sponsor at the end of the program; allowing hire offers to be made shortly after the program is complete.
The bottom line: A good number of top candidates are locked up in through summer internships. If you don’t do this, your competitors will.