Do companies require longer-lasting internship programmes?

Normally, we have two- or three-month internships, but are they enough to evaluate a potential hire?

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The concept of internships can be traced back to the apprenticeships of the past. However, researches suggest that the life of an apprentice in the medieval times was not the same as we know it today in the modern world.

One major difference was that there was no time limit to the apprenticeship period. Apprentices often worked under their mentors for years, without getting any wages. Interestingly, they were not even allowed to get married during that time! But now, things are simpler and more comfortable for modern-day interns.

Today’s internship programmes generally last two to three months. While these programmes are beneficial for the interns, they are equally beneficial for the companies as well, as they get to see some new faces at the workplace. The interns bring in freshness to the team, thought processes and environment at work.

Some interns may not take their internship seriously, but most consider it as a stepping stone to establishing their career in the industry. Internship programmes are a great way for organisations to evaluate talent and consider them for full-time opportunities.

As pointed out by Ashish Anand, CHRO, SAR Group, “Internships offer the companies a chance to evaluate the attitude and culture fit of candidates.”

“Being with a potential for two months is enough and much better than a 30-minute encounter during a campus placement drive”

Ashish Anand, CHRO, SAR Group

They are able to assess the talent closely and see if they are suitable enough to be absorbed into the workforce permanently.

The question to be asked is, ‘Are three months enough to engage with interns?’

Not really. Two or even three months are insufficient to accurately evaluate someone. This short a duration is not enough for the interns to be fully engaged with the company or be ready to accept a job offer.

Engaging with a potential candidate has become very important. Job offers made too early or too late are the cause of infant attrition. The problem lies in engagement. Improper evaluation, especially when people have multiple offers in hand, leads to employees leaving the company within two or three months of joining.

According to a study, recruiters feel that infant attrition accounts for 10-15 per cent of the total attrition.

A longer affiliation with interns is something that companies need to consider. In fact, throughout the year, companies can look to engage with students periodically. This will give enough time to organisations to build a relationship with potential hires and evaluate them thoroughly before making them job offers. This, in turn, will reduce the chances of infant attrition.

However, not everyone thinks that a long time is required to assess a person’s abilities and suitability.

As per Sachin Agarwal, HR-head, B2B e-commerce business, Ajio, two months is enough to evaluate a potential hire. Recalling his own internship experience with ACC, Agarwal admits that he was able to understand the culture and working of the organisation quite well.

“The interns have limited time. In addition to practical experience, they need time to cover their theoretical fundamentals”

Sachin Agarwal, HR-head, B2B e-commerce business, Ajio

Anand points out that generally when a company hires talent from campuses, the interaction with the selected candidates does not last for more than 30 minutes or so. That is why, summer internship programmes came into existence, to facilitate better understanding of the candidates and a more effective evaluation and measurement of their performance and skills.

“Being with a potential for two months is enough and much better than a 30-minute encounter during a campus placement drive,” states Anand.

Moreover, giving more than two to three months for internships is a challenge for the industry because the duration is not decided by them, but by the academia. “The interns have limited time. In addition to practical experience, they need time to cover their theoretical fundamentals,” shares Agarwal.

Another important factor to ensure engagement is the involvement of the managers. Many a time, interns go through bad experiences at the workplace. “The involvement of the project manager is vital. Companies that rely heavily on campus recruitment for talent, such as the companies from the BFSI and IT sectors, have good internship programmes in place,” explains Anand.

Whatever be the duration of the internship — two or three months — the engagement level has to be high. This can be achieved by giving the interns some meaningful projects to work on, which can then be further evaluated. As per the industry, longer engagements are welcome as long as the interns are comfortable and can afford to spend that much time with them.

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