Internship Programs: 3 Keys to Finding and Retaining Top Talent

Hundreds gathered at Corporate College East on Feb. 21 for the 2019 Cleveland Internship Summit. Throughout the year, we will be bringing you highlights covered during the event. Today’s recap focuses on the three key strengths of FedEx Custom Critical’s internship program.

The success FedEx Custom Critical’s internship program has enjoyed over the years comes down to three things, Ramona Hood, the company’s Vice President of Operations, Planning and Strategy, said during the opening keynote of the 2019 Cleveland Internship Summit:

  • Establishing partnerships with key partners;
  • providing interns with meaningful work; and
  • putting an intentional focus on the program in order to generate the highest possible return.

Hood elaborated on each of these points during her address, providing a roadmap the assembled group of business leaders and educators could follow in order to provide the best possible internship experience for their own students and interns. For example:

Establishing partnerships

FedEx maintains close partnerships with several schools in the Northeast Ohio region in order to ensure that the company’s pipeline of interns—typically between 12 to 18 interns are in the program at one time—remains full.

FedEx also takes these partnerships a step further through assisting the universities with resume workshops for the students, mock interviews and more. These kinds of touchpoints help build relationships with the schools and through those relationships, FedEx Custom Critical’s internship program leaders can provide feedback on the students’ work at the company and, vice versa, the universities can give constructive criticism back to FedEx on the structure of their program. She added later that it’s vital for companies to take this feedback seriously and be willing to make changes as needed based on it.

Meaningful work

The days of viewing interns as someone who refills the boss’ coffee mug are long over, Hood said. It’s vital that companies provide meaningful work and experience to the students because these are people who might well end up working fulltime for the company after graduation.

At FedEx, Hood said company officials have found the best way to accomplish this goal is by doing legwork before the internship starts. The company communicates expectations and what success looks like and in doing so, can gauge the intern’s progress as the internship progresses.

Hood said her company is also not afraid to give interns an opportunity to focus on finding ways to transform the organization and make it more efficient. A lot of times, this means taking a closer look at repetitive processes at the company and allowing the students to find ways to improve these processes. An added benefit? It frees up time for fulltime staff members to focus on other important tasks.

Intentional focus

Lastly, Hood stressed to attendees that a company’s internship program must be a point of intentional focus within a company. It’s critical, she said, that companies design internships to be a part of their overall talent strategy.

As an example, she cited the fact that FedEx takes internships as an opportunity to take their own fulltime staff and challenge them even further by placing them in a mentorship role. Not only does such an action help the interns excel within the program, it also gives the fulltime employee experience in a leadership role.

Want to know more about internship best practices? Visit the Greater Cleveland Partnership’s Internship Central hub to learn more about how to build a best-in-class internship program at your business.

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  • Next up: Is Social Media Your 'Friend' When Hiring Interns?
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  • Is Social Media Your 'Friend' When Hiring Interns?

    In the days leading up to the 2019 Cleveland Internship Summit on Feb. 21, we are running a special series of articles highlighting some of the sessions attendees will have the opportunity to attend. Today’s preview focuses on what companies need to know when using social media in vetting potential internship candidates.

    Evaluating and vetting potential internship candidates is perhaps the most important step in the internship hiring process. The interview process provides some insight into whether a candidate will be a good cultural and skill-based fit with an organization. But to get a complete perspective of an intern’s makeup, employers are more frequently turning to an interview candidate’s social media profile to get a more complete picture of how that person might function within a company.

    While there are many benefits to leveraging social media in this way, there are potential legal issues that could be opened as well. This is a topic James McWeeney II, associate attorney at Walter Haverfield, will explore at the 2019 Cleveland Internship Summit during a plenary session titled, “Is Social Media Your ‘Friend’ When Hiring?”

    We sat down with McWeeney recently to get a preview of what he plans to talk about during this session. Here’s what he had to say:

    Social media benefits

    People share a lot about themselves on social media and some of these posts are relevant to a hiring company that can gain insight into a candidate’s employment history, relationships with prior employers, the kind of work he or she has done in the past, and more.

    These topics represent talking points that a candidate might not bring up during the interview process, but nonetheless represent valuable information when it comes time to making a final decision on the intern the company wants to bring onboard. However, there is some information floating out there on social media channels that could present legal concerns to a company if the hiring manager uses that information to make a hiring decision.

    Social media dangers

    The biggest thing that companies need to be able to do is recognize legally protected information on social media that hiring managers would otherwise not ask about. This includes such things as religion, genetic disposition, whether the candidate is pregnant, etc. There have been cases where people have challenged internship selection decisions claiming that they have discriminated against.

    In addition, there could also be First Amendment concerns as it relates to an individual’s right to free speech in their social media posts. During his presentation, McWeeney will dive deeper into this topic as well as illuminating the difference between the information from social media companies can use during the selection process and that which is legally protected information.

    You’ll have the opportunity to learn more about this topic as well as other internship program best practices at the 2019 Cleveland Internship Summit. Click here to register today.


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  • Next up: Is Your Company Ready for Performance Review Season?
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  • Is Your Company Ready for Performance Review Season?

    It’s that time of year again: performance review season! Read on for a brief outline of how performance reviews should operate and scroll to the bottom of this article for a link to download a sample performance evaluation form.

    As we get settled into 2019, business owners are reevaluating all areas of their businesses. One of the most important areas they reevaluate is employee performance. That’s right, the time of year when a simple form determines the good performing employees from the bad. It’s a common, accurate procedure used to help determine promotions, raises, bonuses, demotions, or terminations. 

    While the specifics of the evaluation process vary from company to company, typically the employee and his or her manager work together on completing a performance evaluation form. The employee and manager then determine a date and time to review it and discuss the pros and cons of their overall annual performance. Some companies—especially the younger, smaller companies—might do reviews every six months or even quarterly in order to allow for changes to take place more immediate due to urgency. After all, why wait a year to fix something when you can do it now?

    No matter on which timetable the review is conducted, the process typically plays out the same way. Managers need to make sure they document all performance issues on each employee, so they have accurate accountability information to discuss, and employees just need to make sure they make every day on the job count. This includes their attitude, job performance, teamwork, and more.

    If you’ve never put a performance evaluation form together before (or if you just want to have something to check your existing form against) click here to download a sample performance evaluation form you can use during your review meetings.

    Mike Kaminski is VP of marketing and partner at Big-HR and has 13-plus years of experience in management, sales and marketing.


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  • Next up: Know Your Options: Why Medical Mutual and COSE’s New Health Benefit Option Might Make Sense For Your Business
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  • Know Your Options: Why Medical Mutual and COSE’s New Health Benefit Option Might Make Sense For Your Business

    As a business owner, it’s important to know you have options to help grow your business. That’s why Medical Mutual—a long-time supporter of small businesses across Northeast Ohio—has partnered with the Council of Smaller Enterprises to present a new health benefit option for small business that is centered on the belief that small businesses should be able to provide the same benefits as a large company.

    As a business owner, it’s important to know you have options to help grow your business. That’s why Medical Mutual—a long-time supporter of small businesses across Northeast Ohio—has partnered with the Council of Smaller Enterprises to present a new health benefit option for small business that is centered on the belief that small businesses should be able to provide the same benefits as a large company.

    The COSE Health and Wellness Trust is a multiple employer welfare arrangement (MEWA) designed as a self-funded benefit option for businesses with 50 or fewer employees. Business owners with no employees are also eligible to apply. The COSE MEWA was developed to help small businesses and their employees manage the increasing costs of healthcare benefits.

    The MEWA At A Glance

    Characteristics of the COSE MEWA include:

    • 16 different plan options, including traditional co-pay plans and high-deductible health plans with varying deductibles and co-insurance.
    • By using such factors as medical history, gender, age and location to set rates, the costs of the COSE MEWA could be less expensive for your group than under similar plans offered by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
    • The COSE MEWA is not subject to some of the ACA-mandated benefits and taxes and fees, so these savings are passed along to you.
    • The COSE MEWA maintains stop-loss coverage to provide plan sponsors with additional protection from large financial losses.

    And because Medical Mutual is administering the benefits for participating COSE employers, all benefits and options are tied to the same Customer Care team, local assistance and network of doctors and hospitals that members have accessed for years.

    Learn More at CoseMEWA.com

    Interested in learning more about how the COSE MEWA works and why it may be the right plan for you and your business? Access all the information you need on our education page at www.cosemewa.com where you can view videos, access frequently asked questions, view plans and additional information and help make an informed and easy decision for your business.

    For more information, contact the COSE Benefits Team at Medical Mutual at 440-878-5930. Or email the team at cosebenefits@medmutual.com.

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  • Next up: Learn About the COSE Workers’ Comp Program
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  • Learn About the COSE Workers’ Comp Program

    The COSE Workers’ Compensation Program has assisted small to mid-sized businesses with claims and rating needs for the past 20 years. Our workers’ compensation program is one of the resources designed to achieve growth and success for our member clients. Over the last two decades, our program has incorporated a suite of services designed to control cost and increase member client capacity. This includes offering claims management, hearing representation and underwriting support while helping businesses navigate the complexities of Ohio’s workers’ compensation system. We pride ourselves in being the member client’s partner, advisor and advocate in the workers’ compensation arena.

    The COSE Workers’ Compensation Program has assisted small to mid-sized businesses with claims and rating needs for the past 20 years. Our workers’ compensation program is one of the resources designed to achieve growth and success for our member clients. Over the last two decades, our program has incorporated a suite of services designed to control cost and increase member client capacity. This includes offering claims management, hearing representation and underwriting support while helping businesses navigate the complexities of Ohio’s workers’ compensation system. We pride ourselves in being the member client’s partner, advisor and advocate in the workers’ compensation arena.

    The savings we achieve for our member businesses are just as important as the services we provide. COSE’s state-sponsored group rating plan leverages a strong member base to achieve the highest discounts available in the state of Ohio.  Group rating allows qualified members to achieve workers’ compensation premium discounts as high as 53%. COSE also offers a group retrospective rating plan. Group retrospective rating allows members not otherwise qualified for our standard group plan to achieve performance based rebates on workers’ compensation premiums. Together, these programs save millions of dollars in premium for our member clients every year. 

    This year, COSE partnered with Cleveland-based Minute Men Human Resources to provide the claims management activities that support the program. Our program’s dedicated staff at Minute Men HR has over 100 years of combined experience in the workers’ compensation industry. Together we have built a comprehensive program that incorporates valuable services and exceptional savings for Ohio businesses.

    Learn more about COSE’s worker’s compensation program or contact us at 216-452-0100 or email us at cose@minutemenhr.com 

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  • Next up: Lesson Learned: Don’t Do It All Yourself
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  • Lesson Learned: Don’t Do It All Yourself

    The COSE Strategic Planning Course offers small business owners invaluable advice on a range of subjects to help them grow their business. We asked some recent graduates of the program what their takeaways from the course were and during the next several weeks, we’ll be relating to you their insights. Today’s “lesson learned” comes from Maia Ballard of RWJ Wiring, Inc. She talked about the importance of not trying to be a one-person show at your company.

    Q: If someone were on the fence about enrolling in the COSE Strategic Planning Course, what would you say to encourage them to enroll in the program? 

    Maia Ballard of RWJ Wiring, Inc.

    I would tell them it’s the best money you will ever spend in your life. And the reason why is because a lot of times we, as business owners, have been in business a while but when it comes to the COSE Strategic Planning Course, you realize you know nothing. You don’t know as much as you think you know. I came to this class and was completely overwhelmed, stressed out and pulling my hair out and thinking I can’t make it. After 10 weeks, however, I had a new lease on life. They helped me to revise the way I look at my business.

    For instance, one class focused on the topic that you shouldn’t be doing everything like the books, the accounting, the payroll. But that’s what I was doing. And that was too overwhelming. So, the first thing I did was I knew I had to get a bookkeeper. I had to get someone qualified to take over that responsibility because it was one less hat I had to wear.

    The second thing I learned is that if you don’t have the right people in the right positions in your company to help you grow, then your business is not going to grow efficiently or effectively. I sought to find someone with experience and a master’s degree. You can’t train someone to be that kind of person overnight—especially as a small business person, you don’t have the resources to train them. But if someone comes in the door with that experience, that training and that knowledge, it’s so much easier for them to hit the ground running. That’s something I learned when I came here. I’m still in my 30s, but I’ve been in my business almost 10 years and I had no knowledge this is the way I needed to run my business. I wanted to be the business owner and work in business development, but how can I do that if I’m in the office 80 hours a week? By the time I’m finished doing all that, I’m exhausted.

    Also, the mentors and the speakers they brought in are just unbelievable. If you attended all of those talks separately, you would easily spend more than what the course itself costs. In addition, once you go through the course, you become part of a family for life. It’s just like a sorority or a fraternity. Once you join, you’re there forever. You can always come back and sit in on a class to get more education. It’s amazing.

    Anyone who is on the fence about signing up, I would tell them that you need to invest in yourself. If you want to be successful, you have to invest in yourself and your business and it will be worth it because you will achieve what you want to achieve.

    Learn more about how the COSE Strategic Planning Course can help your business grow.

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