Category Archives: Newsletters

Secret Weapon – Executives Can Make A Difference

Many topnotch UR programs have both the backing of C-level executives (direct reports to the CEO) and an executive presence on campus that reinforces the recruiting effort. With “skin in the game”, senior leaders have reason to help achieve recruiting success. These firms have discovered how to navigate the time commitment in order to effectively use the talent of their most senior executives.

CSP has worked with firms across many industries — finance, professional services (accounting and consulting), aerospace/defense, as well as manufacturers, and has developed a Campus Executive Program (CEP) tailored by our consultants for each client. The CEP judiciously includes high-level executives in the plan.  CSP matches senior executive availability and interests – business and personal, with campus needs to maximize their impact.  A CEP can also provide the UR program with documentation to underscore these methods and training for executives to be successful.

Using top executives effectively in the UR program provides visibility, distinguishes the company among key university notables, helps reinforce the brand and sends the message that the company’s leaders are committed to their employees and the university, Here are just a few tips from the CSP Campus Exec Program for you to use in your UR efforts:

  • Start with an endorsement from your the top executive and involve him or her in the process of developing a campus executive program
  • Create a titled position such as “campus executive” (CE) to demonstrate the firm’s commitment to the institution and provide a direct liaison with the school’s top leadership.
  • Assign colleges strategically, where CE involvement will have the greatest effect. CEs must feel they make a difference to justify their time
    • Match CEs to their alma mater, where possible:
    • Analyze hiring needs and assign geographically, based on interest and practicality
    • Correlate business needs with academic program strengths, the CE’s expertise and/or interest
    • Select schools where the greatest student talent is for your company by examining current priority business hiring needs; assign CEs accordingly
  • Develop a CE job description with brief, clear expectations of time, effort and specific activities; most importantly – train CEs on their roles and your expectations
  • Do the legwork and suggest participation wisely.  Arrange an initial meeting on campus for CEs to meet with university VIPs: deans, presidents, provosts, chancellors, department heads, key faculty, and influential alumni
    • Set up follow up lunches, dinners, student club events, and meetings
    • Learn about committees, boards, advisory groups; alumni chapter speaking opportunities and other campus activities for CE participation
    • Guide the CE to lead the company’s philanthropic support
    • Make personal introductions to further the relationship including involvement in the company internship program
  • Facilitate contact with your best prospects who receive offers to help close the deal
  • Make it easy for your CEs by creating templates for thank you notes; congratulatory emails; or communication to alert prospects of upcoming firm events – all to deepen your firm’s university relationship
  • Demonstrate the results of the campus executive program to your firm’s leaders:
    • Produce monthly hiring reports showing results measured against the plan
    • Compare results to prior efforts that did not include CE involvement
    • Distribute the analyzed results to leaders throughout the organization to encourage growth of your campus executive program. This can instill competition within the organization to spur excitement, boost efforts and improve outcomes.

CSP has many more good ideas, which can be customized to creatively involve senior executives in your UR program.  Please feel free to contact Mary Cooperwasser directly at (mary@campusstrategicpartners.com) to learn more. The CSP experts are eager to share more tips and help you take your UR program to the next level.

Building a Business Case for URR

Surveys from multiple sources have predicted that the 2014-15 campus recruiting year will be very competitive for undergraduates and MBA students.  For employers to be successful, it is critical that a well researched plan be put in place perhaps as long as six months to a year prior to setting foot on campus.

We have determined that there are fifteen key components that make a campus recruiting program successful.  This series will commence with the first step:  Building the Business Case for a Strategic University Recruiting and Relations Program (URR).    As defined by the popular reference Wikipedia:  “a business case captures the reasoning for initiating a project or task.  It is often presented in a well-structured written document, but may also come in the form of a short verbal argument or presentation. The logic of the business case is that, whenever resources such as money or effort are consumed, they should be in support of a specific business need that adequately captures both the quantifiable and unquantifiable characteristics of a proposed project.”

Most organizations fall into one of three categories:  1) they have no program and want to create one; 2) they “do some college recruiting”, but want to create something more strategic with a solid return on investment,  or 3) they have a well-defined program with a desire to make continuous improvements.

As we work with clients, the first question we ask them is, “Why do you want to create or establish a college recruiting program?  What are your motivators for taking action?   Often, the response is “…..it just seems like the right thing to do because we need people.”  Answering the question “why” is a good place to begin building a URR business case.  Here are a few qualitative and quantifiable reasons typically used by companies starting a campus recruiting program

Why Have a University Relations Program?

The company:

  1. Needs the latest technologies being taught at the universities to address skill gaps; gain a competitive advantage, and/or up-skill current employees by infusing talent from the best universities.
  2. Must address workforce turnover, which includes pending retirements, voluntary and non-voluntary departures, replacements, promotions, and/or relocations.
  3. Has enjoyed business growth, which necessitates hiring new employees.
  4. Would like to establish closer ties between the organization’s research with partner universities and faculty.
  5. Can lower salary costs by hiring new campus graduates rather than experienced professionals.
  6. Can build a bigger and better diversity pipeline through campus clubs and organizations at key schools.

Creating a compelling business case for URR should incorporate the most important reasons of what you want to accomplish using internal data and metrics to support those arguments, where possible, including key outcomes and success factors.  Additionally, you will need to provide estimated costs and resource requirements, then analyze the financial and cultural impacts, and assess your organization’s capability/readiness to carry out your program.  Ultimately, you will need to document a project plan (which includes main activities/milestones, a timeline and key decision points) and a change management plan.

Establishing a strong business case for URR — clearly understood and embraced throughout the organization — is the first of the strategic elements that make a campus recruiting program successful.  Whether you are starting a new university relations and recruiting program or making improvements to an existing one, creating a well thought out business case based on facts is a good place to start.

 

Focus on Internships Part 4 – Critical Success Factors

Congratulations!  You’re nearing the end of The Gap, done all you could to close your top intern candidates and you now have a pretty good idea of the talent joining you this summer.   Now, the really fun part starts – revving up your internship program!  No doubt, you’ve already ironed out most of the program details, but, how can you ensure it’s “all it can be” for success this summer and in the future?

There are a number of factors which are critical to ensuring a perennially successful internship program, i.e., one that is not only a competitor, but is an ongoing leader in the marketplace.  At a minimum, contenders will be able to check off most or all of the following events & activities:

  1. Dynamic Opening & Closing Receptions with Executive Speakers
  2. Corporate & BU-specific Orientations
  3. Alumni Panels
  4. Training & Career Development Sessions
  5. Intern / Program Performance Reviews with Focus Groups & Surveys
  6. Intern Presentations
  7. Networking Events & Social Media
  8. Exit interviews
  9. Intern Ambassador Program

Underpinning these activities is a need for a compelling business case and adequate resources.  An intern program is a double-edged sword which can HELP or HURT an organization’s all-important brand in equal measure.  Done correctly, it will yield exponential branding & recruitment returns, as interns spread the good news about your firm / program on campus.  If executed poorly however, you can count on interns to spread the bad news just as rapidly.  So the bottom line is you need to set the groundwork by presenting a convincing intern program business case to organizational leaders over time in order to secure adequate resources to ensure an ongoing successful program.

This article will focus on several critical success factors for the following key stakeholders:  intern program directors, hiring manager/intern supervisors, and the interns, themselves.

Intern Program Director CSFs

One of the fundamental activities critical to the success of intern program directors is some level of strategic planning:  developing a strategic plan, establishing objectives, and implementing strategies to achieve those objectives.  If you are developing a new program, you may find it helpful to employ Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits maxim, “begin with the end in mind”.  For example, answer the following questions:  What would a successful Intern program look like at your organization?   What would be the components?  Who are the key stakeholders?  How will the program be differentiated from competitors?

Success also requires a systemic approach in order to create an organized, robust and synchronized program in which all stakeholders are adequately resourced, engaged and coordinated to support the program.  The result is a smoothly operated program firing on all cylinders, working in unison toward the same measurable goals.  Some other critical success factors for program directors touch on organization and program design elements:

  • Hold a kickoff meeting to mobilize and coordinate the activities of various corporate stakeholders & participants: executives, hiring managers/supervisors, HR / college recruiters, campus teams, communications, training & career development,  I.T. / technical, mentors, employee resource/young professionals groups, etc.
  • Design a program incorporating the millennial mindset – what excites, motivates & inspires them, e.g., corporate social responsibility, community projects & making an impact on society, career advancement, interesting & challenging work, training & mentoring, etc.
  • Deliver presentations on critical success factors to intern account managers
  • Install mechanisms to ensure program is optimized and interns stay on track as well as for continuous improvement, e.g., intern performance reviews (mid-term & end-of-summer), intern program evaluation via surveys & focus groups, adequate program support and coordination from corporate, etc.
  • Document your program and institute metrics – maintain intern database, assess lessons learned, measure progress over time, etc.
  • Utilize key best practices resources­ – including NACEweb.org, Regional ACE conferences, roundtables & workshops, InternBridge.com, Internship.com, College Networking Resource Group

Hiring Manager/Intern Supervisor CSFs

Establish a customized intern program plan to support your organizational structure:

  • Develop onboarding materials to help interns understand the role of your group within the organization as a whole as well as account strategy and goals
  • Provide real work, not administrative, assignments to your intern
  • Make yourself available to the intern as much as possible
  • Expose intern to multiple aspects of the business (consider rotational assignment, job shadowing, etc.)
  • Provide continuous feedback to the intern about their performance and contribution
  • Encourage interns to network, participate in all activities and to share experiences with other interns
  • Keep intern program director informed about intern status, plans for the future, etc.

Intern CSFs

The intern program director and hiring managers/supervisors should communicate the following messages to interns throughout the internship.

  • Understand & leverage resources across the entire company to complete work assignments
  • ‘Use It or Lose It’ – Resourcefulness, proactivity, curiosity and openness are important but if interns don’t use (apply) these traits, they lose their potential effectiveness.  
  • Take responsibility for your own success and apply yourself.
  • Participate.  Be engaged
  • Learn as much as possible about your job, business unit, industry; ask questions
  • Identify gaps in your own knowledge and abilities and take steps to fill the gap; don’t wait for manager to initiate
  • Freely provide your (highly valued) perspectives
  • Network with diverse set of interns across the company on different teams, working in different functions, at other grade levels, schools, etc. Utilize intern social networking events, use available social media, & participate with employee resource groups
  • Have Fun!

We hope you find these suggestions useful.   Wishing you highly successful internship program this summer!

 

CSP Newsletter – Focus on Internships Part 3: The Gap

Congratulations, by now you have probably completed the majority of your intern hiring (or almost)!  But now what?  Most of your interns don’t start work for another two months. Undoubtedly you have lots to do to prepare for their arrival but often this work is internal preparation and there are not a lot of opportunities (or need) to communicate with your hires until just before their start date.  Aside from the random questions about housing options and dress code, what can you do to keep your intern hires engaged and not suffer from prolonged radio silence on both sides?  Here are some suggestions our consultants have seen in action and wanted to share.  Whether you chose to do one, two, or several of these things, we think it’s a good idea to plan a few official touch points to help fill the potential communication gap.

Ideas on how to stay connected with your intern hires between when they accept your offer and their start date:

  • Intern Class Introduction Email: Once you have completed your intern hiring, sending an introductory email to everyone joining for the summer is a nice way to start some camaraderie among the group.  Interns, especially those relocating for the summer, often reach out to each other about potential housing options.  Just be sure to ask permission from each person to share their personal email address with the larger group.
  • Housing Options Email: Speaking of housing options, if your company does not offer housing for the summer interns, sharing some suggestions about where to look for housing can be very helpful and well received.  If you have not done this in the past, check to see if local colleges and universities rent out dorm rooms during the summer, or if there are websites that people in the area typically use to advertise rentals and sublets. (InternHousing.com is a great resource.)
  • Phone Call from Managers: Task your hiring managers with picking up the phone and calling their intern just to say hello and reiterate how excited they are for the intern to be (re-)joining the team this summer.   You can even provide a few bullet points about the summer program to make it really easy for managers to place the call.
  • Summer Calendar:  Once you have finalized your summer program calendar, it’s nice to share some highlights to help get the interns excited about what is in-store for them in the coming months. Information can include orientation/onboarding schedule and key dates for events that may be taking place after hours, on weekends, or may involve significant others.  Giving the interns a heads-up on these dates is much appreciated when they are planning their summer.
  • Pre-Hire Paperwork Email: Whether your interns can complete all of their pre-hire paperwork online or need to print and bring materials with them on the first day, an email detailing out everything they need to do is a must.  Otherwise you will have a lot of follow-up work after their first day.  A reminder about employment verification paperwork (i.e. I-9 documentation) is essential.  How many times have you had interns calling their parents to overnight their passport because they thought a photocopy would suffice?
  • Company Meeting or Event: If appropriate, consider inviting the interns to attend a company meeting or social event prior to their start date.  This is a great way for interns to reconnect with hiring managers and learn more about the company including perhaps: future plans, strategic initiatives, and organizational culture.
  • Exam Kits: Who doesn’t like a box of brownies or other yummy treats to share with their friends and help them through studying for exams?  Sending a little goodie box and a “good luck with exams” note is a very thoughtful way to stay connected with your soon-to-be interns.
  • Social Media Sites: Creating a social media site for your intern class where they can communicate and get to know each other a little before starting work is a definite nice to have.  Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Hangout are a few good options and will allow you to create private pages/groups and invite the interns to join.  Just remember, if you do choose to do this, you should designate someone to moderate the site and respond to any questions/content directed towards your company.

We hope you find these suggestions useful and good luck bridging the gap,

Your Friends at CSP

CSP Newsletter Focus on Internships Part 2: The Waiting Game

This is the second newsletter in a series on internships

Interviews conducted – check! Offers extended – check!  All relevant information about the job communicated – check! Now the tables have turned and the waiting game begins. No longer are the candidates trying to impress you. Now you are trying to woo the candidates to accept your offer.

While we have all probably encountered the over-zealous student who accepts their offer on the spot, this is not always the norm. Students often want some time before making a decision. In many cases, schools mandate offers remain open until a certain date to allow students time to finish interviewing with other companies, consider all their options, and talk with career services, advisors, friends, and family to help them decide which opportunity is best for them.

So aside from reverting to voodoo and black magic, how can you increase the odds of students accepting your offer over other offers that may include office foosball tables and free lunch every day? Okay, we admit, it’s hard to compete with free lunch. However, you have worked really hard up until this point, so don’t leave things to chance now. Below are a few suggestions on how to put your best foot forward to help increase your acceptance rate and close your top candidates.

Helpful hints for closing candidates:

  • Closing Teams: Assigning a closing team to each offeree is a great way to stay in contact with a candidate and gather important intel about major decision factors the student may be considering. We recommend assigning a two person team to each candidate: one senior-level employee to offer-up the “wow” factor, and one junior-level person (ideally within two years of graduation) who recently went through a similar decision making process. When assigning closing teams, look for things in common between the candidate and the closing team members (i.e. same school, played the same sport, club affiliations, professional interests) to help break the ice.
  • Gather Candidate Intel: Leveraging your closing teams (see above) and other interactions with offerees, gather as much information about competing offers and other decision factors important to the student. For example, the type of work each position offers, compensation, geography, other attributes of the intern program, likelihood to lead to full-time employment, etc. The more you know, the more you can try to sell them on your offer. If you are unable to answer a student’s question, find someone in the company who can and make an introduction.
  • Employ Program Ambassadors: Former interns are a great recruiting tool. Recruiters can talk until we are blue in the face but when one student tells another student about the great experience they had working at your company; all of a sudden it resonates. Don’t be afraid to ask former interns to touch base with classmates and offer to answer questions and share their experience. Hint: if you do this, it’s nice to offer up a small token of appreciation to these program ambassadors.
  • Offer Gifts: By this point in time, students have so many water bottles, t-shirts, pens, and other tchotchkes emblazoned with company logos, the thought of sending more may be a real turn-off. However, if you have “bigger, nicer” gifts that you reserve for top candidates, this is the time to put those to use. Consider something like a signed copy of a book authored by a person at your company or a goody box of things from the city where your company is located. Or when all else fails, send cookies with a nice note congratulating the student on their offer.
  • Office Visits/Sell Event: Expectations for the amount of wooing required to close a candidate can vary greatly between industries. The norm for one industry may not even be a factor for students considering opportunities in another industry. For example, it’s not unusual for students pursuing opportunities with banks, large consulting firms, and law firms to be invited to events where they are “wined and dined” by company executives and participate in programs designed to convince them to accept one offer over another (we won’t even mention the ski weekends and trips to tropical locations). However, these types of events may not be the norm for students who want to work at smaller companies or in other industries such as technology, engineering, communications, and marketing. Planning a dinner for all of your offerees to meet each other and members of your leadership team, or inviting them to your office for a half-day of programming may be a way to differentiate yourself from the competition.
  • Incentivizing Early Accepts: Incentivizing students to accept sooner rather than later (i.e. exploding offers and diminishing signing bonuses) can be a touchy subject. Some schools have strict policies against it. Our advice is to do your due diligence and be aware that some companies employ this tactic.

We hope you find these suggestions helpful; good luck getting that acceptance rate up!

CSP Newsletter – Focus on Internships Part 1: The Kickoff

This is the first in a series of articles on internships

It’s that time of year again: intern recruiting season. Hard to believe, but there are only about 20 weeks before summer interns will be reporting for their first day of work. Regardless of whether your intern program is large or small; well-established or new, there are always things you can do to help improve it going forward.

As you think about your summer intern program and what lies ahead, we at CSP strongly recommend holding an intern hiring kick-off meeting to ensure all of your key stakeholders are aligned regarding your program and process. Suggested topics to include on your agenda include:

  1. The purpose of the intern program
  2. Hiring timeline
  3. The interview process
  4. Offer process (offer decisions, offer approvals, extending offers)
  5. Roles and responsibilities for recruiters, recruiting coordinators, hiring managers and interview team members
  6. Intern performance management
  7. Summer events & key dates

We know everyone is going to be very busy for the next few months. Good luck and let the countdown to the interns begin!