Company conversion rate co-op/intern to full-time employee:
61% (median – 80%)
A recent survey of career services directors at STEM focused universities found that over 85% were experiencing increased interest in participating in co-ops or internships during their collegiate experience. Students and their parents are getting the message, corporate recruiters are seeing increasing value of students that have shown they can successfully apply what they have learned. The Michigan Tech led STEM Collaborative sought out to seek a greater understanding of this ‘hands-on’ value by surveying student co-op/interns and the corporate recruiters that recruit them.
Will your company be increasing the number of internships it offers?
77% – YES!
In the search for a strong college full-time hire, employers are reviewing and redefining characteristics on what makes an engineering candidate stand out. Is it the student’s performance in academics, which might translate to the understanding of basic engineering fundamentals? Or, is it the practical hands-on experience obtained through internships and co-ops, which showcases real-world complex problem solving abilities, interpersonal and communication skills? With companies increasing the number of internship/co-op positions each year, the more vital considerations are: 1) which of these might give the STEM student the advantage in his or her job search, and 2) which of these might benefit the company in the long-term strategy.
What do co-ops/internship experience mean to companies?
Charlie Kramer from Meyer Contracting, “Understanding our culture, our work ethic expectations, our demands of our employees and corresponding rewards.”
Josh Szymanski from Owen Ames Kimball, “Students learn to work with others through problems, politics, and conflict on projects. They also see real world application on concepts they are learning during the school year.”
What value do students see in participating in co-ops/internships?
“The level of project autonomy I have and the incredible learning experiences are the most satisfying while on co-op.” – Ryan, Michigan Tech co-op, Bemis
“The greatest value a co-op brings to a company is their point of view and the way they look at the world. They are new to the company and are not yet accustomed to the way things have been, which is why they are more open to ideas of change and trying new ideas which might help. Another value that co-op students bring to a company is to show the type of work ethic and knowledge that comes from being at a specific college to aid the co-op hiring process in the future.” Jenna, Michigan Tech co-op, Greenheck
What do recruiters value most?
Co-op/Internship Experience – 51% | GPA – 13% | Both – 36%
When asked if internships/co-op were more valuable, a respondent from Twitter stated, “Yes – I believe so. Although I believe college is a test of how well an individual can approach, learning from, and retain new information. I do believe real work experience is more valuable. The ability to navigate through an organization or even understand what navigating through an organization means, is key in quick success at any company.”
Although employers recognized that some companies in the selection criteria might use a minimum GPA, many more stated that once this was met, experience would take precedence in their choice, especially with upperclassmen seeking full-time jobs. For example, a student who has a 3.0 GPA with experience would more often than not be chosen over a student with a 4.0 and no experience. As stated by a respondent from Caterpillar, “Both are very valuable to have but students considered for Caterpillar internships must meet the minimum GPA specified on the job opening in order to be considered. However, involvement in extracurricular activities and other work experiences, even if it is not related to their major, is more important than the higher GPA. We are looking for well-rounded students that have demonstrated the ability to balance their time. The experience gained working, while applying what they have learned in class, demonstrates they have the ability to do that and work with others in a full-time position. For these reasons, we seek out individuals that have had co-op, internship, and/or extracurricular experiences on their resumes.”
Will you make room for top talent?
88% – YES!
We then asked company recruiters “If you find strong candidates on the recruiting trail, will you make a position for them?” – 88% responded with a resounding YES! Corporate America manages budgets to maximized profits and drive share price. Its most precious and scarce commodity is the graduates our STEM focused institutions are producing, so much so that they will make space for them on their teams, regardless of budget. A student with co-op/internship experience qualifies as a strong candidate. That is the definition of a valued asset!