Five Ways to Use Internships to Grow Your City

Demand for skilled talent in Nashville continues to grow at a rate that’s among the fastest in the country. Though demand is up across the board, growth is most notably occurring in the technology sector at a rate of 9 percent, according to a technology employment spotlight released by CareerBuilder and the Nashville Technology Council in 2015. This isn't a problem unique to Nashville, though.

Businesses everywhere have a vital role to play in our region as we work to increase the supply of talent to meet the exciting rise in employer demand. By opening up internships at your company, you become a part of developing the talent necessary for both your own company and your region’s economy to grow. 

Here are five ways that a greater number of internships will benefit your community:

1. Talent Pipeline Development

Internships let you work with top student talent months, or even years, before they graduate, allowing you to make an impression before almost any other employer. But remember, first impressions are lasting impressions. Take advantage of the branding opportunity internships provide, and spend time making them a valuable, positive experience for students. You never know where students may end up and what other bright students they may know.

2. Become an Educator

Internships put a classroom inside your company, and ensure that the next generation is prepared with relevant experience as they enter the workforce. By developing a great internship program, you’re engaging in the education of your company’s future team members. As students, they’re full-time learners, eager to be coached by professionals.

3. Get Work Done

When given proper forethought, well-planned internship programs accomplish vast amounts of work for employers at a low cost. This work not only benefits the team the intern is working on—it also allows the student to learn by doing and gives the employer actual work with which to assess the intern for future hiring decisions. For more on paid vs. free internships, see this article from Nashville’s HR Notes

4. Post-Graduation Retention

To get hired immediately post-graduation, students need four things: education, experience, relationships, and the ability to communicate their value. School gives them knowledge, while internships give them both the experience and the vital relationships they need to get hired. Having experience allows them to understand and communicate the value of their education. The more we can prepare our graduates for the workplace, the more likely we are to see them get hired locally and stay, rather than moving home or out of state. 

5. Talent Attraction

We already know from the New York Times (and many others) that Nashville and cities like it are now the most popular places for young people to move to. These regions can increase this trend further by creating new internships, and recruiting students from top universities around the country, so that by the time they graduate, they’re ready to move there full-time.

If your company is growing and you don’t already use internships as an integral part of your talent strategy, consider the benefits they’ll provide for your business and the ripple effects they’ll create in the community.

A version of this post was originally published on HRNotes, a monthly newsletter for HR professionals in Nashville and Middle, TN hosted by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.