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The 3-Part Magic Recipe for Turning Interns into Good Employees

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November 20, 2015

The 3-Part Magic Recipe for Turning Interns into Good Employees

Internship Program Provident Bank - Interns To Employees

By now it should be no surprise that we passionately espouse mentoring and internship programs over here at Provident Bank. We’ve highlighted our LinkedIn Forum management team’s internship experiences and discussed the success of our Cash Management intern, Trevor Woolley. Now, we have even more proof in the internship pudding.

Trevor, along with a handful of peer interns, including Tim Connell and Samantha Chesney, were hired permanently and are already producing results for the bank, making personal and professional achievements, and being shaped into future leaders. Now that’s what we call an effective program!

Good internship programs are, unequivocally, mutually beneficial for employees and employers. But what makes an internship good? And how do you transform an intern into a competent employee?

The answer may seem a little bit elusive at first. But after consulting the real experts on the subject, the intern alumni themselves, we identified the magic recipe for a good internship program—for employer and employee.

The 3 Ingredients for a Good Internship Program

1. Mentorship

This may seem obvious, but effective mentors are crucial. “The portfolio managers possess an abundance of knowledge. They taught me the basics and then built upon that foundation over the years,” Tim said of his three summers in the Commercial Real Estate Department. “[Portfolio manager]Maureen Caccavale especially spent a significant amount of time training me and answering questions,” he added. “I would not be here today if it weren’t for the guidance and encouragement of the CRE department.”

But you must remember this: Just because someone is a good worker does not mean that he or she is also a good mentor. Some people are patient, wise, and natural teachers. And the mentoring relationship ought to be an organic one: both parties should take a shine to each other—much like Trevor and Provident’s Chief Risk Officer Jim Christy. During both his summers interning—first in Internal Audit and then in Cash Management— he worked on multiple projects for Jim. “He always finds me somehow,” Trevor joked.

Mentors should also set a good example. “Corinne Kison [cash management analyst] demonstrated an amazing work ethic,” Samantha said. “She is the kind of worker I hope to be one day.”

Mentors need to offer instruction, dispense advice, and provide guidance within a structured program. And that means assigning their interns worthwhile work.

2. Relevant Work

Good internships are not about fetching coffee and making copies! Give your interns work that teaches them your procedures, processes, and systems, helps them acquire new skills and prepares them for the job—whether it’s ultimately at your company or elsewhere.

During her internship with the Cash Management department, Samantha completed ACH loan reviews and renewals, deposited foreign checks, researched articles for the Forum on Business (thanks, Sam!), and worked on various projects as assigned.

In his first year, Tim mostly worked on annual loan reviews and helped ensure the department’s readiness for audits. In the following years, he was entrusted with more responsibility, attending site inspections and construction reviews and doing a little bit of underwriting.

3. Fit

Fit is critical to an internship program’s success. Yes, students can learn valuable and transferrable skills from internships in areas outside of their major. They should explore their interests and try out different roles. After all, Tim originally came to Provident as a marketing major but switched to real estate and finance after his first summer with the bank.

But the most optimal benefits, of course, come from interns working in their niche. Samantha remarked, “Before my internship, I worked for a marketing research company across the street from Provident. Every time I pulled into the lot, I thought about how much I would rather be working in my field of study at the bank.”

But fit doesn’t just comprise industry interest. It’s a little bit more nebulous. It has to be the right person in the right place at the right time. Trevor is a fine example of fit. He’s well suited to Provident’s people, processes, and culture. His background as the son of a business man and a graduate of Pace University’s BBA/MBA Accounting program make him ideal for Provident’s unique position. The bank is preparing to make the hurdle over $10 billion in assets, something only about 15 other banks in the country are currently undertaking. And Trevor’s ambition, thoroughness, intelligence, and dedication make him well-equipped to face the regulatory and other challenges that come with this momentous transition.

The Symbiotic Benefits

Like we’ve said, good internship programs benefit both parties. And those benefits are considerable.

  • Improved Chances for Hire: The intern alumni all agree: the internship-to-employment route is the way to go. With most entry-level jobs requiring experience, it’s exceedingly difficult to break into the job market. But many companies, like Provident, hire employees based on internships— some as high as 50% of their workforce. “My friends who struggled to find jobs post-college did not have internships” Tim observed. Enough said. For employers, internship programs can help them narrow their applicant pool to the most qualified individuals, streamlining the hiring process.       
  • Flexibility: Because the employer and new hire have already forged a relationship during the internship, there’s more freedom in the hiring process. The employer may create an entirely new position, or the hire may be given more control in crafting their responsibilities. Trevor, for example, works in a hybrid position, splitting time between Internal Audit and Risk.  
  • Job Preparation: Certainly, a new job is a new job and takes some getting used to—there’s newfound independence, a different daily routine. As Tim put it, he had to learn to adjust “from the lifestyle of a student to that of a gainfully-employed adult.”Still, former interns come in better prepared. “The internship taught me a lot about the systems we use and the customers we work with, and helped me get to know the department.” Sam said. “Because of these things, I definitely feel more comfortable with the job.” For the employer, prepared new hires mean significant cost-savings on training and orientation—a major boon for the company as those expenses skyrocket.
  • Lower Turnover: Interns-turned-employees develop company loyalty before their first day of permanent employment even begins. They know they like the people and enjoy the job, and may be inclined to stick around longer than someone with no ties. For the employer, the internship works like a trial period where they can test the intern’s capabilities and fit. This saves the company time and money on the hiring/firing process.Employers, combine these magic ingredients into an internship program— and you’ll see tangible results. The proof is in the pudding!

Employers, combine these magic ingredients into an internship program— and you’ll see tangible results. The proof is in the pudding!

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