Internships: A Powerful Recruiting Tool for Veterans
Looking to hire military veterans but afraid to commit? Curious to see how the talents and skills of a veteran can add value to your team and organization? Internships could be the answer! Many employers, large and small, are engaging veterans as interns before hiring. These companies recognize that often a military resume doesn't match up with a civilian job description, and through an internship they can evaluate and test the potential employee before adding them to the payroll.
How Internships Work
Whether paid or unpaid, internships offer veteran job candidates an opportunity to test their skills in the environment or gain experience in the career they are pursuing. Similarly, an internship gives the company the opportunity to evaluate the contribution of the veteran, without the commitment of full-time employment and benefits.
Veterans often leave military service with a struggle: How do they translate their career experience from the military into civilian terms and skills? Internships give veterans the ability to adapt their experience into the corporate environment, sometimes helping them identify the need for more training, education, and experience, or the desire to do very different work.
For the employer, internships give the company and the team exposure to the veteran's character, work style, skills, and potential. Many employers chose the internship route to try out a candidate before offering a full-time position. The internship then becomes like an extended job interview.
Internships can run from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the job and company. They are either paid (at a nominal rate) or unpaid, sometimes offering school credit or resume experience in exchange for work performed. Because job candidates are recognizing the unique value (in experience, skill building, and networking) of internships, many of them are in high demand and have wait lists for interested applicants.
How to Find Veterans for Internships
Colleges and universities with large student veteran populations encourage these students to pursue and participate in internships in companies, non-profits, and organizations in their area of interest. In some cases, the student receives college credit towards their degree for the work they do as an intern.
There are numerous online sites to connect veterans with internships. Whether sponsored by an online platform, individual company, governmental agency, non-profit organization or university, these sites seek to match employers with veterans who bring hard and soft skills that might not translate literally, but could be explored deeper in an internship relationship with a potential employer.
Individual companies also find great success recruiting for interns through their own channels. Posting opportunities on the company website and emphasizing the company's desire to use internships as entry into the company builds consistency across the brand to show that the company is, in fact, veteran ready. Leveraging online recruiting platforms, and social media sites focused on business (and recruiting and hiring) enhances the company profile as interested in getting to know the veteran job candidate and their skills.
Making a Good Intern Hire
If your company seeks to recruit military veterans as interns for open positions, ask yourself these questions:
- What positions would work well for someone with a military background?
- Are there specific positions that would work well for internships?
- What candidates would we like to attract to internships, rather than through the traditional hiring process?
- What contacts do we have that could refer us to military veterans for internships?
- How can we add value to the veteran intern's career growth if we do not hire them?
In the short term, internships might appear time consuming to set up and initiate, but the net benefit is often the ability to tap into a workforce that can add tremendous value to your talent pool over the long term.
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