At this time of year, when universities are graduating a new batch of students and firms are interviewing those students for potential positions, it may be prudent to look at what makes a good fit for the firm and the employee. The firm wants a new hire to be competent, professional, ethical, motivated, able to work well in groups, and capable of growing with the position. As for the new hires, their expectations of themselves should mirror the expectations of the firm that’s hiring them. When employer and employee are on the same page in this way, it reduces the risk of negative consequences stemming from poor employee satisfaction. It also helps form the foundation of a long-term trust relationship between employee and employer.
There has been a trend over the last decade or so to hire graduates from packaging programs on a contract basis rather than offering them a full-time, permanent position right away. Many firms use this as a screening process before a permanent position is offered. While this practice serves a short term goal, it does nothing to build on any of the trust relationships shown to increase productivity in the workplace. Research in work behavior and productivity has demonstrated that “engaged” employees benefit the firm far greater than disengaged employees. It is simple commonsense that if someone hires you for a short time you have a “job,” but if you are hired as a permanent employee you have a “career.” That’s why an internship program in a firm makes so much more sense than hiring a new grad on a contract basis. It gives both parties a trial period.
The temporary position of an intern allows the firm to review a student’s skill set and see if the student is a good fit. Conversely, this 6 month position allows the students to see the firm’s working climate and determine if they feel they fit and can grow at the firm. This relationship is designed to be temporary, and, if agreeable to both sides, it becomes a conduit for a full-time hire. If it doesn’t lead to a full-time position, it still gives a student real working experience that will help immensely in future interviews with other firms. The internship practice serves to reduce risk and is a learning opportunity for both the student and the firm.
The hiring of a full-time employee who began a relationship with a firm as an intern is an informed decision by both parties. It creates an engaged employee committed to the firm’s success. The experiences of the individual over time add to his or her value because of the nature of the packaging function in a firm. The packaging function in many firms exists as a liaison position in the firm connecting the various functional groups and, more important, sharing information among those groups. A permanent employee has a long-term outlook and understands the value in establishing trust relationships with other functional groups in an organization to better facilitate communication. The firm and the individual have a clearer understanding of each other’s goals before a job offer is made and an internship allows time for that understanding to develop.