5 Steps to Engage Your Alumni Interns

As your internship program comes to a close, this could very well be just the beginning of your relationship with your interns. The goal of many internship programs is to recruit all-star talent and season the company’s future leaders by nurturing talent early. Some of the greatest leaders and CEOs started off as interns at their organization like the CEOs of Xerox and Dreamworks. In addition to recruitment, your internship program has the potential to strengthen your company culture and brand. 

Now that you have spent quality time thoughtfully designing and curating an internship program, it is important to take the steps to establish your post-program engagement with your alumni interns. Understanding how to maintain communication with your interns can add long term value to your organization. Here are 5 steps you can take to begin planning your post-internship engagement strategy. 

Step 1: Collect Contact Information

Collecting contact information is a simple yet critical step to remaining in communication with your interns. At most companies (like Microsoft and Chewy), interns lose their company emails the day after their program ends. Before this happens, make sure you collect all your interns’ emails for future communication. We also encourage you to collect mailing addresses to send them swag, holiday cards and important documents in the future. 

Step 2: Select a Medium

The next step is to decide on communication channels. It is important to use a form of communication that fosters community and encourages your interns to actively receive updates. Here are four methods and resources we recommend:

  1. Symba’s Platform – Symba enables you to stay connected with your alumni directly on our platform. When your interns leave, several “Alumni Features” can be activated to keep interns active in a community page, discussion boards and company updates.
  2. Email Newsletters – A great place to send company updates and stay top of mind for your interns. 
  3. LinkedIn Groups – You can create professional LinkedIn groups for your alumni
  4. Slack Channel – You can dedicate an entire channel for your alumni interns and permission them to only have access to that space.

Step 3: Establish Cadence of Contact

No matter what mode of communication you have selected, it is imperative that your former interns understand the benefits of staying in contact with your company. Companies like General Motors opt to send out a monthly newsletter to their current and former interns. At LinkedIn, they invite former interns to answer questions during a live webinar. Other notable organizations host quarterly speaker series, networking opportunities, and resume workshops. 

At Symba, we recommend at least a monthly check-in with your alumni interns. Please note that there is no correct approach to how often you contact your intern alumni, only that the communication be consistent and that the intern derives value from staying in contact. 

Step 4: Nurture Your All Star Interns

Take it up a notch when engaging the interns you plan to bring on full-time. Some Fortune-500 companies retain over 80% of their interns as entry-level hires. Interns these days might participate in more than one internship program so you want to remain top of mind. Reach out to those high performing interns and express your gratitude for their efforts over the summer. Ask them if they would be interested in joining your company full time, and create space for them to ask any questions they may have. It is important to introduce the idea to your intern early and get them excited about the prospects of a position at your organization. By focusing on relationship building, your alumni are far more likely to join your company in the future.  

Step 5: Celebrate Interns Receiving Full-Time Offers

For those interns who have accepted your job offer, it is important to keep in touch with them and ensure they remain enthusiastic about joining the team. This can be accomplished by sending a care package of useful “corporate swag” in the mail during finals, offering opportunities to work on short-term paid projects, and hosting service events where new hires can volunteer alongside full-time employees. To ensure your future employees are prepared for their new job, invite them to coffee or lunch when company representatives visit their universities. These efforts will strengthen the relationship between you and your former interns, adding value over time.

For more information on best practices to engage remote interns and get a live demo of the Alumni Features on Symba’s Intern Management Platform, sign up here.

About the Author:

Ahva Sadeghi, CEO & Co-Founder of Symba is a passionate social entrepreneur. Symba is the leading remote internship platform helping companies adopt virtual operations. She was recently named Forbes 30 Under 30 and a Global Entrepreneur Scholar by the US Department of State. Ahva is a John Lewis Fellow for Civil and Human Rights.