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High-Performance Organizations View Interns as Long-term Investments

Erik Samdahl | i4cp

June 24, 2010

An often cited rationale for hiring interns is the prospect of having someone around to handle the grunt work no one else wants to do. But these days, many companies have more strategic goals in mind for their internship programs.

The latest study from the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) – the world’s fastest growing and largest corporate network focused on the practices of high-performance organizations – found that top-performing organizations are more likely to realize a return on their investment in internship programs by converting interns into full-time employees. Nearly a third of survey respondents (28%) said that more than half of their interns convert, compared to 12% of lower performing organizations.

The study, conducted on behalf of an i4cp Fortune 500 member company, also found that only half of the organizations that have internship programs attempt to quantify the benefits to begin with, though high-performance organizations are much more likely to do so (64%) than lower performing companies (38%).

This is not surprising, considering that high-performance organizations almost always do more to measure and quantify the strategic benefits of their efforts.

The Results:

Nearly half (47%) of high-performing organizations reported intern labor productivity as the main measure for quantifying the benefits of an internship program, while 45% said improved retention among full-time employees who were formerly interns is a significant factor. Only 27% of lower performing organizations reported that these measures were used to quantify the benefits of internship programs to a high or very high degree.

Among the top-performing companies, improving the productivity of other employees by distributing some of their tasks to interns was the least used metric (22%), whereas low-performing organizations were most likely to select this as a ROI quantifying measure.

The ROI of Internship Programs study, which was conducted in May 2010, is now available to i4cp members in both report and interactive data formats. The study also examined the costs companies account for in regards to internship programs, the extent to which interns are exposed to other parts of the company and the way in which schools are selected as sources of talent.

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