Retaining millennial talent: The importance of a successful intern housing program

Thought Leadership presented by National Corporate Housing

National Corporate Housing image for SmartCEOGone are the days of the traditional intern — the ambitious recent grad running around the office taking coffee orders and refilling printer toner. Meet the millennials — the generation that knows how much their skills and abilities are worth to large companies, and are calling the shots more than any generation before.

To attract and retain top talent, companies will have to win over millennials from the very beginning. One of the most impactful ways this happens is with an internship experience. Companies that develop and administer effective intern programs are winning! An effective program is one that is not only an expression of a company’s brand and culture, but one that makes the intern feel cared for, valued and engaged.

With their tech savvy, global outlook and restless ambition, millennials will no longer tolerate average or sub-par treatment by companies during an internship. They’re expected to make up half of the workforce by 2020, and they will job-hop more than any prior generation to get there. For hiring managers, this means catering to their expectations and preferred communication channels to win and keep their interest. Especially for top-tier tech companies, the loyalty and innovation of interns-turned-full-time-associates can mean millions or even billions in revenue over time. This means it is crucial to get every aspect of the internship program right, from the projects themselves to the cafeteria selection to intern housing arrangements.

For companies that offer ad hoc intern housing programs (or no housing program at all), the risk of low conversion rates, poor intern satisfaction and higher talent churn is great. An internship is often a young person’s first step into the professional world. It is also a major change that comes with the anxiety of a new city, new living arrangement and new responsibilities. If a housing program is disorganized, or if the details cannot easily be accessed or viewed on a smartphone, new interns will be confused, frustrated and more anxious than before. Having a centralized, mobile-friendly and high-touch housing program for interns from day one is paramount. Bad first impressions are rarely, if ever, overcome.

Providing a consolidated intern housing program through a corporate housing company can help your company avoid a logistical nightmare, while enjoying a substantial return on your investment. Internships are a period for ingraining company culture and values into potential hires, and well-cared-for interns make loyal employees. After a year’s tenure, 86% of employees who were once interns are still on board versus 81% who weren’t. After five years, the difference becomes 55% and 44%. Company loyalty not only leads to better employees, but also encourages greater innovation. In addition, a well-branded and well-designed housing program broadens the talent pool to include international markets, giving hiring managers access to top-shelf talent from around the world.National Corporate Housing image for SmartCEO

In the age of the millennial, job-security and salary have been replaced by company values and personality as top priorities for talented job seekers. Internships have become a sort of extended date, where companies AND interns determine if the fit is right. While they can be restless and irreverent towards authority, there is no doubting millennials’ innovative capacity and potential value for employers. If done right, intern housing programs can impress world class talent with your brand and demonstrated values, ensure intern satisfaction, and generate revenue and value creation by fostering loyalty from day one.

  • Meister, Jeanne. “Three Reasons You Need to Adopt a Millennial Mindset Regardless of Your Age.” Forbes. Oct 15, 2012. April 2016.
  • Saidov, Sultan Murad. “Improve The ROI Of Internships.” Ere Media. Aug 27, 2014. April 2016.

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