As “The Great Resignation” continues to impact nearly every organization, HR managers, recruiters, and managers continue to ask how they can effectively build their talent pipeline. One way to offset the hiring challenges for your organization is to focus on building relationships with talent on the rise. Often, companies are focused on recent college graduate talent, which is key, but the impact of developing a work-based learning experience such as internships or job shadowing is equally important.

Inter(n)ing The Workforce

The value of an internship program is underestimated. Hiring interns is a great start but companies can meaningfully impact their talent pipeline by offering fair pay, thoughtful work, mentoring, feedback, and networking opportunities. An internship program that includes these elements will stand out to your new hires and create an experience that leaves an impression and creates a reason for students to return to your company.

Even if you hire very few interns or want to add content and programming to your company’s already existing program, consider looking outside of your organization. Is there an organization that already offers programming to interns in your area? Would partnering with another company create more resources, personnel, and time to dedicate to a quality intern experience? Are there events and content that serve the interest of interns that already exist?

Thankfully, Cincinnati has a regional-wide summer intern program called Cincinnati Intern Network Connection (CINC). CINC offers two to four free or low-cost events curated by a committee of professionals from organizations and institutions within the region. At these events, interns can meet other interns from different companies, network with professionals from various industries, explore the region, and tap into content exposing them to all things Cincinnati. CINC is open to all students interning locally at any company.

Big Benefits

Developing a pool of talent through internships has various benefits. As mentioned by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, internships can be a great way for the company to gain a better understanding of an intern’s performance in their role or department. At the same time, the intern is also able to evaluate if the company’s culture and work align with their preferences without having a long-term commitment. If offered a full-time position in the future, an intern can pick up on prior experience within the company to get acclimated to their role more quickly than an entirely new employee. Another added benefit is the fresh perspective and innovative thinking interns often bring to a company. If their experience is positive, they will likely share this experience with friends and their network through word-of-mouth or via social media, which is added exposure for your company.

Are you unsure about how to locate a great prospective intern for an opportunity at your organization? The Cincinnati Region is fortunate to have the Greater Cincinnati Collegiate Connection (GC3), which taps into a collective effort between 16 higher education institutions to strengthen our region. GC3 has incredible intern resources including a website that includes an intern navigator tool that helps employers connect with the professional at each institution who can help them find the right intern and a toolkit that helps guide employers on how to build an internship program from the ground up or simply improve their existing program.

Additional Ways to Expand Your Talent Pipeline

Locally, you can build your talent pipeline by:

  • ●   Leveraging the resources of the Workforce Innovation Center to evaluate your company’s practices and adjust to meet the demand of future workforce needs.
  • ●   Researching funding options that allow for paid work-based learning experiences. Review GC3’s list of intern funding support options in the Greater Cincinnati area.
  • ●   Capitalizing on the resources of the Cincinnati Experience and VisitCincy that have tons of generated content on neighborhoods and events that will showcase the Queen City and provide ways for talent to connect to the region.
  • ●   Exploring connections with high-school students. There are lots of organizations in the region that provide experiences for students to explore possible careers. Events like Junior Achievement, and programs like career-based learning at Cincinnati Public Schools and DePaul Cristo Rey’s Corporate Work Study Program are great places to start.
  • ●   Considering how your company can diversify your intern talent pool. Need help? See the NACE’s suggestions.

The Value of Internships for Talent and Your Business

According to Development Counselors International “Talent Wars” study (2022), the top three factors that played the biggest part in talent’s decision when considering a new job were: salary, work/life balance, and company benefits. Despite interns being mostly part-time and seasonal employees, it is important to remember that they value many of the same factors.

As we continue to face an aging population and a growing number of retirees, the benefit of developing or refreshing your company’s internship program should not be underestimated. A strong internship – or any form of work-based learning program – includes pay for regular work, meaningful projects that are a match between the individual and the employer, and an authentic experience of company culture. Finally, leaning into existing resources that complement intern’s experience is just as important to ensure your company creates an experience that interns want to be a part of in the future as full-time employees.

Interested in getting involved in our talent work? Contact Kabrella Clark, Talent Connections Manager, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber.


Kabrella Clark
Talent Connections Manager
Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber