It’s hard to believe, but Gen Z is in college, entering their 20s, and looking for their first internship. The next step is full-time employment, and you’ve already considered preparing for Gen Z recruitment. But what if you already have a great Gen Z intern you’d like to turn into an employee?
The types of work and the environment these young adults prefer is different than Millennials. If you want to turn a Gen Z’er into a full-time addition to your company, it’s time to start adjusting your internship program now.
Here are four ways to transition your promising Gen Z interns into rockstar employees:
1. Focus on employee engagement early.
Employee engagement leads to better retention, but it can be difficult to know how to engage employees from different generational backgrounds. But what makes Gen Z so unique?
In a 2014 study by Millennial Branding and Randstad, Gen Z respondents ranked creativity as the number one characteristic they associate with their peer group. They’ve got ideas, and they know it so ask them for their feedback from the get-go. Their fresh eyes will provide countless improvements to everything from your onboarding program to how you do day-to-day tasks.
Also, remember that Gen Z’ers have multiple interests and want to explore all of them. Just because Emma was brought in as a marketing intern doesn’t mean she’s not interested in what the design team is doing, as well. In fact, in the Millennial Branding study, 37 percent of Gen Z’ers said they felt cross-functional projects are the best way to learn and develop skills.
Ask your interns which other departments or projects they might be interested in, and expose them to how those employees work. You can even consider doing one rotation day a week when interns work in a different department.
Don’t leave them out in the cold, to learn by themselves, either. More research from Millennial Branding and Randstad found that unlike Gen Y, Gen Z does not prefer to work independently. Engage your interns, by having them help with group projects. You can even have all your interns work together on one project of their design, so they can interact and engage together.
2. Provide meaningful work and advancement
In the study by Millennial Branding, 55 percent of Gen Z’ers said they were motivated by projects they cared about. Of course, you can’t just let the interns pick and choose what they do and don’t want to work on, all the time, but think twice before randomly doling out assignments.
Take the time to get to know your interns and then let them know why you’ve given them certain tasks. Most of the time, it might just be a learning experience, but if there’s a personal connection for the intern, let them know.
For example, if you know Noah volunteers with the Red Cross and he’s working on a project for a client that donates to them each year, let him know. This is a connection that will add meaning he otherwise wouldn’t have found.
As for advancement, show your interns they have a future at the company. Clearly define a path you’d like for a successful transition from intern to employee. [click to tweet] Include suggestions on university classes that can help them out or other types of work experience you’d like them to gain before hiring full-time. That way your intern will know you’ve thought about their future as much as they have.
3. Give them face-to-face mentoring
It might seem illogical, but the generation that grew up with smartphones in their hands prefers talking face-to-face. Fifty-three percent of Gen Z’ers said they want to talk with their bosses and managers in person, rather than over email or messaging. Furthermore, 69 percent of Gen Z respondents, to the Millennial Branding survey, said they wanted mentorship and feedback.
Create an intern mentorship program that not only allows Gen Z’ers to learn, but also to develop. Don’t just have your managers pick a name out of a hat; match mentors and mentees on a deeper level. Use personality tests to match employees who have similar ways of working and thinking. Or, to give both some experience interacting with a different mindset, pair up different personality types.
From day one, have the mentor ask his mentee for feedback, like creating a list of personal goals the intern has for both the mentorship and internship. Also, make sure the mentor communicates effectively with the intern and gives them regular checks on how their performance is measuring up.
4. Stay in touch after the internship.
Internships, by nature, are temporary. If you want your interns to become future employees, you need to show them they’ll matter to you once the summer ends. Keep in contact with them and see how they are progressing.
Whether an intern still has to finish college or there aren’t any current open positions with your company, staying in touch will allow you to offer a job to your intern when the time is right. Follow them actively on social media and LinkedIn or invite them for coffee to catch up.
Remember that a lot of employees are constantly on the lookout for job opportunities. The 2014 Job Seeker Nation survey by Jobvite found that 51 percent of workers are open to the possibility of a different job. Send relevant job postings to your past interns, and see if you get any bites.
It might not be time yet to hire your intern full-time, but it’s just around the corner. Be prepared, by not only giving Gen Z’ers what they want out of an internship, but also showing them your company can be their future workplace as well.
What other ways can you turn Gen Z interns into full-time employees?