While it may be difficult to carve out the time to hire and plan for an intern, offering an internship program is a key way to solve your agency's hiring challenges.
Four in 10 principals say finding and hiring talent is a top challenge, according to the 2022 Agency Universe Study. However, hosting an internship program can solve this problem and is a long-term investment in your agency's success by creating a natural talent pipeline of potential candidates.
While it may be difficult to carve out the time to hire and plan for an intern, offering an internship program is a key way to solve that hiring challenge—68% of interns get a full-time offer from the company they interned for, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
InvestSM, the Big “I" nonprofit educational foundation, can help. It recently released an internship guide that includes job descriptions, tasks and evaluations. The free guide is available to all Big “I" members and can be customized for your needs.
Need more inspiration? Here are nine strategies to simplify the internship process:
1) Consider hiring more than one intern. If your budget allows, hiring more than one intern will create an instant peer group. This will enhance your agency's pool of talent and create a better experience overall. And make sure to take care of your interns—they should have a dedicated space to work, access to technology and a place to put personal items.
2) Give them real work. Interns want real experience. Not only are they building their resume, but they want experiences that help them establish their career path. Show them why your employees love their careers.
3) Help them establish goals. Have an initial meeting with your intern and understand what they want to get out of the experience. Share your expectations on what you want them to learn. Document these goals and develop a tracking system to help them evaluate their growth at the end of the internship. For more help, consider the Big “I" Young Agents Mentorship Guide as a resource.
4) Let them shadow each role. An intern may have one idea about insurance, but we know there's so much more to insurance careers. Create a schedule that allows them to shadow each department for a week—commercial sales visits, customer support, marketing and team meetings can provide the intern with a well-rounded experience.
5) Give them your time. Make sure to schedule time each day to check in with your interns. They want feedback. Often, this is their first time in a business environment. Consider making time each day, even 15 minutes, to answer questions, check in on goals and provide feedback on projects you have them working on. Consistency is key to building a relationship.
6) Consider on-demand education. Check out your state Big “I" association or the Big “I" Virtual University for on-demand courses interns can take to learn more about insurance. Also, look at the training offered by carrier partners or software providers that may broaden their insurance knowledge and confidence.
7) Let them create. Marketing is a must-have skill in any business. Have your interns research and create a marketing campaign. Give them goals, a target audience, brand guides and point them toward research. Share campaigns from the Trusted Choice® website for inspiration. Interns can present a pitch for feedback and walk away with valuable experience—and hopefully your agency gets a new marketing campaign, too!
8) Have fun. Find ways to have fun with your team this summer. Perhaps you host a volunteer event at a local charity or become a donation site. Maybe you do a team-building event at a nearby park or escape room. Show the value of building relationships in the workplace and showcase how insurance professionals are cornerstones in every hometown.
9) Evaluate. Hopefully you've kept up with your interns' goals and can do a final review of their experience. The end of the internship is also a great time to get feedback on your agency's culture. What did they love? What can you do to make the next internship experience even better? And hopefully, this is the time to make a job offer or outline a career path that brings the graduate back to your agency!
Susan Bonner is Big “I" assistant vice president of marketing and communications.