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#118: Tapping the Intern Talent Pool

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, August 26, 2009
It seems like the economic downturn has a silver lining - the availability of a wealth of available talented college graduates still looking for work.

It is true that the normal intern pool would diminish near the end of summer. However, this year, the unemployment rate among recent college graduates remains high. Large companies have cut hiring of both full-time and summer employees this year to minimize cash expenses and commitments to longer term personnel costs. Smaller companies are often even more risk averse. The National Association of Colleges and Employers annual student survey says that 20% of 2009 college graduates who applied for a job actually have one. Some of these might be perfect for your consulting business. Even those who are electing to attend graduate school are looking to part-time work to supplement their income.

Recognize that identifying and vetting potential interns does take time, but this is an investment in extending your capabilities. Given the variable talent needs of consultants that change from porject to project, it is best to evaluate how these skilled and eager graduates can leverage your time in ways that a between-semester intern could not. You may need to identify a range of specialized skill sets (e.g., research, communication, writing, graphics, economics, engineering, psychology, technology) that can either complement your skills or teach you new skills (despite our experience, there are still things a new college graduate knows that we don't).

Tip: Talk to local business school or undergraduate departments in the disciplines you need for current or likely projects. Compile a list of a dozen or so students who come highly recommended by faculty for their being self starters, good communicators and solid academics. Contact them and describe your consulting practice and your interest in using them on short-term assignments. From this exercise, you should get 3-4 you could use. Try them out with a short research project, say some market research, to help them understand your work style and for you to get to know them.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  staffing  teaming 

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