Linking High School lnternships to Talent Strategy
The Fifth Annual Cleveland Internship Summit was February 27, 2020 at Corporate College East attended by more than 200 business, community, and education representatives. Throughout the year, we will be bringing you highlights covered during the event. Today’s recap focuses on the value of hiring high school interns.
Internships are not just for college students. Internships for high school students are on the rise and many employers are seeing great results from their high school interns. During the “Linking High School Internships to Talent Strategy” session at the Cleveland Internship Summit, attendees learned and discussed the value high school interns can provide, common misconceptions, and how to effectively manage high school interns.
Featured panelists included, Autumn Russell with MAGNET; Karen Leak with Rockwell Automation; and Michelle Steele-Jordan with Intercontinental Hotel Group. All three panelists have extensive experience planning and implementing high school internship programs and managing high school interns. While they all agree there are special factors to consider with high school interns, there is no doubt that a high school student can provide significant value to an organization and community such as:
- Completing real work that includes manufacturing work, coding, customer service and more,
- Allowing a company to start much earlier in building their talent pipeline by introducing students to the industry, company, and different roles; and
- Supporting the local community and helping students gain real-world skills by contributing to college and career readiness activities.
Often employers can be apprehensive about hiring high school students for internship opportunities because of some common misconceptions. The panelists discussed some objections and misconceptions that they have had to overcome both internally and externally that include:
- A student must be 18 to work or participate in a specific type of work such as being on the shop floor at a manufacturer’s facilities. If the student is part of a recognized work-based learning program, then they are learning on the job and as long as they are properly supervised, they are able to do real work.
- They are not capable of doing real work. At Rockwell, they are given assignments and coaching, but are participating in actual coding projects.
- They will not stay with a company. At IHG, they maintain a relationship with the student and when the timing is right, they will put them in a position within the company that will allow them to grow.
The panelists shared some other advice and considerations for companies interested in working with high school interns that include:
- Get engaged with schools. Invite local schools or community organizations to open houses so they can visit your organization and students can get a behind the scenes look.
- Provide opportunities for students to participate in job shadows with employees.
- Require students participate in the same hiring and evaluation process as college students or permanent employees.
- Inquire about student transportation and determine if you will help provide any assistance such as bus passes.
- Provide coaching, mentoring, and other development opportunities.
Visit the article, “Why Hire a High School Intern?” for additional advice and insight about high school interns.
Want to know more about internship best practices? Visit the Greater Cleveland Partnership’s Internship Central hub to learn more about how to build a best-in-class internship program at your business.