Mark Hammer

Like any survey, the results will depend on who is answering the questions, and the nuance of the questions. I poked around last night at the NACE and PPS sites, trying to find a copy of the survey instrument itself, but to no avail. I think the entire report, including the instrument itself, is only available by purchase. However the executive summary of the report (which seems to be available in several different forms) lists all the school involved. It’s fairly broad representation, and given the size of the respondent sample, I have no qualms about the reliability of the estimates. But it would be nice to know a little more about how the question was pitched, and the kinds of programs these kids were in. It may shed a little more light on what the 2.3% does or doesn’t mean.

There is one very useful clue in Jolie Lee’s article: “The prospect of working for the public sector is higher for former federal interns — 17.9 percent said they planned to work for the federal government“. Some may view even that 17.9% as too low. From work I’ve been involved in a little over a decade ago, I think one should note that, for some students, their approach to internships, co-op placements, and such, was largely “Meh…it’s a job and I needed one to pay for school”. For others, the internship/placement was in hopes of translating into a job, or perhaps of an exploratory nature, but the hosting manager/organization did not plan for it very well. The student did a bunch of joe-jobs over the summer, getting handed off to a succession of supervisors – essentially whoever was not on vacation at that point – and doing things that were not necessarily related to their training. The result was that they felt no particular compunction to pursue federal work. If, however, the student had the opportunity to work with a consistent team over that internship/placement, attend meetings that created the sense of being part of a team, and essentially take ownership of a project, possibly seeing it to completion, their declared intentions to pursue federal work in the future were noticeably higher. Like I noted in an earlier post, the potential recruit has to be able to imagine themselves in the job, and as part of the organization – they need to “internalize the role/career”.

I’ll not blame those managers who didn’t leverage the opportunity, since it would often happen that money became freed up to hire a student at the last second. But I will say that more effective planning of such internships AS a recruitment lever, by arranging circumstances for the student to feel embedded in the organization and mandate, goes a long way. I’ll wager that the 17.9% Jolie notes had much better internship experiences than the other 82.1%.