The Value Interns Bring to Creating Diversity at Your Company

The idea of interns as underpaid workhorses and company-wide coffee-fetchers should already be long gone.

Rather, your internship programs should provide relevant value to the participants and your company. Interns can serve many purposes and can be a great resource for your organization–especially when it comes to diversity.

For HR managers and recruiters who are focused on creating a diverse and inclusive work environment, interns are the best solution.

Interns and diversity: a perfect match

If your organization has a holistic diversity statement, then it should be easy to determine how interns fit into the equation. When hiring interns, think about how you would hire any other entry-level talent.

Diversify-Intern-ProgramJust like the talent that you source for full-hire positions, your interns can provide unique perspectives when hired from diverse backgrounds. Interns provide diversity on several fronts, with the most notable being age. This diversity leads to better work environments, fresh ideas, and new ways of looking at long term problems.

Treating your internship program as a training ground for the next generation of top talent in your organization will ensure that you take the future of your organization seriously. In order to promote diversity in your internship program, you have to think strategically about your company and your industry. Analyze and determine the problem areas when it comes to your hiring practices.

Once you identify these pain points in your talent sourcing, you can move forward with creating a strategy for how to overcome these obstacles in creating diversity in your internship program.

How to find a diverse pool of interns

In order to hire interns who contribute to your diversity goals, you’ll have to consider your employer brand and how your organization tackles recruitment marketing. Make your diversity goals known, as well as the goals for your interns. Consider how you can make potential candidates feel like applying to your internship isn’t a waste of time. The more they’re able to see that your company takes diversity seriously, the more likely they are to see value in applying.

Most interns are also part of younger generations. Using tactics like campus recruiting, virtual reality recruitment, and job fairs can all contribute to recruiting Millennials and Gen Z candidates. The biggest obstacle that these generations face to joining an organization is not knowing what it’s like to work there. Put all that information right in front of your potential applicants so they know they’ll feel welcome and included through their internship.

There are also some other obstacles you can ease in order to source a diverse pool of interns. For instance, paying interns a fair wage and providing housing will even the applicant playing field. People may need an internship, but don’t have the means to support themselves in an unpaid, unhoused internship. These qualified candidates may forego applying altogether, which creates an imbalance in the representation of applicants.

If your interns are happy with your organization’s commitment to diversity, they’ll let others know. This can lead to more diverse hiring as your company attracts candidates impressed with your employer brand and commitment to inclusion. Take this one step further by asking your interns for recommendations on who your organization should hire to fill their spot.

A diverse workforce is something you’ll need to grow and develop by looking critically at your industry and its unique challenges. But if your company is committed to developing a more diverse internship program, this will translate to a more diverse workforce and a better company. 

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