X-Interns: Groups for interns.

Nga Nikolla Tore

*where red, it means that it should be adjusted to the particular company/organization.

1. What’s the idea?
Creating a LinkedIn group for all the interns. A group where members can start conversations and share updates on different topics that they may find interesting. The purpose of a group like this is twofold: to keep interns as much connected as possible with each other and the company, and to create a bigger pool of knowledge, ideas, and candidates for the company itself.

2. Target Group?
Current interns – a community without a platform to keep in touch with each other and discuss business related topics of their interests. A platform from which, we as X (to make it easier for us I will pretend as the company name is X and it operates in apparel/fashion industry) could benefit as well, by making use of this big pool of knowledge and information (see below: “why?”).
Future (possible) interns – a big pool of talents who may help the company share the future internship positions with their peers, and therefore help the company reach a bigger number of applicants. Hence, the company will have the opportunity to choose the best match for each position, from a higher number of applicants.

3. Why LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is a professional platform for networking with other people and companies. The content shared by users, groups, and/or companies remains professional, and can be only used for professional purposes. This way, a LinkedIn group ensures (control from the manager is needed of course) that activities which will take place by the members of the interns’ group will be professional as well, and not unrelated to the world of business.

4. Is there any other similar example?
Unilever, Nike, and Amazon have similar groups in LinkedIn. “Nike Europe Internships” has 6.703 members, “Unilever Internship Program” has 2.272 members, and there are many other companies which have a specific group for interns (AON, DELL, European Parliament, etc.).

4.1 Why do these companies/organizations invest in such groups (what is the added value)?
Managing a LinkedIn group for all the interns, provides you with the following benefits:
a. Keeping interns connected with each other and the company.
b. Creating a pool of possible resources (candidates) for future need.
c. Millennials and Generation Z people tend to use social media more than any other generation to express their feelings and beliefs. Therefore, a shared internship/or permanent position from us in this group could end up to a huge audience of their peers.
d. Using social media a lot, means having more to discuss and share with others.
e. Suggesting something interesting and then consulting on the topic with each other through comments in LinkedIn, could lead the participants toward a great idea, which the company could later apply. These ideas may concern practices that other leading companies may use or practices that could help us be pioneer in the respective area.
f. Collecting feedback from interns on their respective department/manager.
g. Keeping track of the interns’ interest in our company/business aspect/or internship role.
h. Taking advantage of the generation Y/Z aura, mindset, and creative thinking.
i. The group will drive traffic to your website.
j. Everyone will build personal network.
k. You will have the opportunity to share and forward weekly/monthly messages/updates

5. Who will manage it?
At first, I would say let’s start it as a pilot project, and after six months you decide if it is worth it or not. For the pilot period of time, the Talent Acquisition Intern/HR Intern could be responsible forkeeping track of the group by sharing interesting articles about our company and the industry, and by encouraging other members to start conversations and share they preferred articles with each other. When the spring/fall internship period starts, you will need to post the internship positions in LinkedIn or University portals. Then, the TA intern/HR intern in cooperation with the Intern and Graduate Program Specialist/Talent Acquisition Specialist/Employer Branding Consultant, will discuss about taking advantage of this group and share the internship positions in this group, asking other members to share it with their peers in different university groups/pages of their universities, aiming to increase the candidate number and possibly their quality for each position in particular.

After the six month trial period, if you are satisfied with the results, either the next intern takes charge of managing the group, or (in case there will be no intern) the Intern and Graduate Program Specialist/TA Specialist/Employer Branding Consultant uses it for internship and/or job positions posts.

6. How will it be managed?
Step 1: After inviting all inters to be part of “X Interns” group, a one-page file with rules (presented as “Suggestions” will be shared with the interns (See end of the paper).

Step 2: The Intern responsible for the LinkedIn page will share with group members the first posts! Some of them will be related to company’s industry, some of them related to Human Resource Management (+TA), and some of them related to ideas and practices concerning other departments and functions within the company in order to encourage and challenge interns from any department to participate and do the same! Posts may include articles, conversation, findings, or videos (TEDxtalk).

Step 3: Every month, the responsible for managing the group intern, will write a one or two-pages report based on all the interesting findings and suggestions that they have discussed with the interns during the previous 30 days. This report will include ideas, interesting practices that other companies (competitors or not) may use but you (the company) still don’t use or/and maybe are not even aware of. Moreover, comments on how these practices and ideas can help or fit the company culture and its departments, should be encouraged. Concerning the last part, the intern responsible for managing the group will study interns’ suggestions and also do some research about the function/department that each suggestion is related to! Hence, he/she will be able to describe into detail how these practices or ideas may be implemented in the respective department/function (this is just in case they find something really important). These reports will be discussed with the Talent Acquisition Manager during the weekly and monthly catch up meetings respectively.

7. Risks?
Problem 1: Interns may show interest in the beginning, but not really be engaged later on!
Solution 1: In case you realize a disengagement aura by “XInterns” participants, the responsible intern will ask them to be more participative, by mentioning their names in posts (shares) and comments related to their internship area. In the end, it is just a pilot group.

8. Page rules (suggestions):
These suggestions will include:
 Take 10 minutes time of your schedule every week or every two weeks to share something that you may find as interesting 🙂
  Did something that you perceive as innovative, interesting or challenging come in your mind? Share it with all of us. Insights from diverse people may help your idea become better.
 We encourage you to share information from articles, researches, findings or experiences that are related to our business/industry.
 Sharing of personal ideas which you think could improve our business practices are strongly encouraged. We love feedback and new ideas.
 Comment on others’ posts!!! – We believe that communication and arguments are the only way which can help us analyze things into details and finally suggest something big that has been well-studied. You never know how good for you it can end (or start) 🙂
 Look at this initiative as a way to keep connected and be in touch with each other – great minds together, can bring great ideas! Show us what a hidden genius you are!

…don’t even try feeling shy to start a conversation or share something you like, but you may think others won’t. That’s why you are special and made it here, because you’re different! 🙂
 Rock it and be the best!
 Make fun, but keep it professional at the same time Xers 😉
 We are the fresh air! We are Fashion! We are business! We are X!

*Many companies keep Alumni groups in LinkedIn! Alumni groups are a great way to keep in contact with people who left the company, but I believe that companies also should focus more on how to make use of their current employees and interns. The reasons why a particular group for interns, are stated above, and the main focus of this article as you may have realized, is that they are the fresh air of the company and they may introduce the company to more possible candidates for future vacancies; candidates, that probably without the use of the network of those interns, the company may never would be able to approach. Thank you for your time dedicated to read such a long article! I will really appreciate any kind of feedback! Your opinion matters to me!

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