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min read

How to build an intern program that attracts and converts the best Gen Z candidates

Learn what is causing firms to lose top intern talent and how Relocity’s Guide for Interns gives you an edge

Generation Z will make up over 11% of the workforce in 2024, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. To attract and retain young workers, firms — who haven’t forgotten 2022’s cutthroat war for Gen Z talent — are improving their corporate intern programs.

How can employers sweeten the deal for Gen Zers? The first step is cultivating a deep understanding of this generation. From there, firms can create successful recruiting, retention, and engagement strategies. 

Born between 1996 and 2015, Gen Z is 27 years old or younger and uses technology more than any other age cohort. Gen Z is eager to engage with its employers via technology, especially after growing up with social media, smartphones, and instant access to information. As industries undergo digital transformation, this generation is at the forefront of technology adoption. As a result, business technology shapes the intern experience — just as much as HR policies.

Providing a frictionless tech experience is critical for keeping Gen Z engaged. A Workforce Institute report found that over 20% of Gen Zers will not tolerate antiquated workplace technology. Indeed, the availability of advanced technical tools influences job appeal. Dell Technologies confirms, “[Ninety-one percent of Gen Zers] say technology would influence job choice among similar employment offers.” The same report notes, from the hiring process to day-to-day tasks, Gen Z needs holistic technology solutions that provide intuitive experiences.

Firms that fail to meet these expectations face management challenges such as Gen Z churn. To increase your chances of attracting and retaining top Gen Z talent, focus on building a best-in-class internship program that improves the intern experience by:

1. Being innovative, not just tech-forward.
2. Helping interns easily discover housing, transportation, and new lifestyles.
3. Connecting interns to the corporate culture and to each other.

Invest in tech that lets interns do things themselves

Image-Invest in tech that lets interns do things themselves

To excite Gen Z, firms must go beyond digitally supported intern experiences and demonstrate innovation. After seeing technology quickly evolve and realizing the power it has to improve personal and professional life, Gen Z expects rapid and continuous technological advances. That’s why “...a third [of Gen Zers] expect their employer to provide modern workplace technology.” 

No conversation about innovation would be complete without mention of artificial intelligence (AI), which enables three expectations of young workers: self service, personalization, and flexibility.

1. Self service: After growing up with YouTube tutorials at their fingertips, Gen Zers are more comfortable than any other age cohort in referencing online information, videos, and apps to troubleshoot issues and learn how to do things. AI supports the self-driven experience Gen Z is used to by enabling chat functionality and decision-making tools. In the context of relocation, AI shows interns what to do if they bump into moving snags and offers helpful recommendations and relevant content for a guided experience.

2. Personalization: To say young professionals are accustomed to personalized digital experiences is an understatement; Gen Z doesn’t know anything different. Gen Zers expect to work with technology that’s as personalized as the platforms they grew up with: Netflix, Google, Spotify, and Instagram, etc. A lack of advanced digital tools is unacceptable to Gen Z. Furthermore, only AI offers the personalization that meets Gen Z’s needs at scale. Is your firm leveraging an AI-driven solution to personalize intern relocation?

3. Flexibility: After attending class virtually during the COVID-19 outbreak, Gen Z learned firsthand how technology supports remote work. Now, this generation expects technology-enabled relocation and hybrid work experiences. Forbes notes, “Business leaders must offer flexibility—and build the systems and processes that can make flexibility possible. Technology is the enabler of the kind of work environment that young—and, increasingly, most—workers expect.” Not only can AI support remote and hybrid work arrangements, it can also enable flexible, on-demand relocation assistance.

Eighty percent of Gen Zers “aspire to work with cutting-edge technology.” Firms behind the technological curve are losing Gen Z talent. According to 2022 research by Lever, “...attrition rates for Gen Z are much higher—with 65% of employees planning to stay for less than a year.” Employers can increase their chances of engaging and retaining Gen Zers by investing in transformative technologies. Firms that don’t will quickly realize what an Ernst & Young report has already confirmed: “Gen Z has neither tolerance for broken technology or inefficient processes, nor will members of this generation forgive clunky processes and digital ineptitudes.”

When exploring technology that guides interns through the relocation process, employers should turn to a solution that provides a personalized and flexible self-service experience. 

Set interns up for successful relocations

Image-Set interns up for successful relocations

Relocation is stressful, especially for young professionals who’ve never moved before. Support the relocation process by helping interns uncover housing, transportation, and lifestyle options in their new city and neighborhood. Not only will you foster mental, physical, and financial well-being among your interns, you’ll also provide Duty of Care.

Duty of Care is the moral obligation of employers to protect their transferees during assignment and relocation from undue risks. While an intern is traveling to or living in a new city for business purposes, the company he or she works for has a moral and ethical duty not to cause, or fail to prevent, any physical or psychological harm to the transferee. This level of care helps interns avoid dangerous situations and protects the employer’s brand reputation. Employers can demonstrate Duty of Care by helping their interns get the right guidance on selecting safe neighborhoods for housing, finding reliable commuting options, and avoiding scams. There are many reasons to support the financial, physical, and emotional well-being of today’s interns with relocation rental assistance or destination services, lease reviews, settling in and lifestyle services, as well as departure services.

Financial considerations

Gen Zers typically need more assistance supporting themselves financially and managing budgets than seasoned employees as a result of having less life experience. Gen Zers also face financial insecurity because more than 6 million of them got laid off across the international Group of Seven in the first half of 2020. In fact, the International Labour Organization’s “Global Employment Trends for Youth 2022” report notes that “global youth unemployment is projected to decline to 73 million in 2022, which would still be 6 million above the 2019 level.” It's no surprise that 81% of Gen Zers cite money as their greatest stressor.

Even in 2022, pay is still a major concern for Gen Z because inflation and student debt are at play. (Roughly 75% of Gen Zers owe $25,000-$50,000 for student loans.) Employers should account for Gen Z’s financial circumstances when designing corporate internship programs.

Physical considerations

Physical well-being is a key wellness category in relocation. Employers that don’t offer relocation assistance may inadvertently create situations like:

Random online searches for low-cost housing.
• Unnecessary commuting distances.
• Risk of scams and rentals in high-crime areas.

Without knowledge of safe, affordable housing and transportation options in your firm’s key markets, interns may end up living in high-crime areas or two hours away from their designated office. Providing relocation assistance helps increase the physical well-being of relocating interns.

Emotional considerations

According to research by Modern Health, “...86% of employees age 18 to 29 say they’d be more likely to stay at a company that provides high-quality mental health care resources.” Considering 46% of Gen Zers face stress and anxiety most or all of the time, employers should take the added pressure of relocation very seriously when designing internship programs.

To feel at ease, interns and their parents/guardians need information about local medical services, grocery stores, gyms, and more. The less an intern struggles with relocation, the more emotionally healthy they are, the more productive they become, and the more likely they are to convert into a full-time employee.

Knowing relocation can be overwhelming for Gen Z, employers should guide interns through every step. Through AI-powered recommendations, personalized content, lump sum payment, and supplier discounts, a workforce mobility platform can provide the relocation assistance interns need to find housing, transportation, and more — while maintaining financial, physical, and emotional wellness. 

Aside from supporting well-being during relocation, firms aiming to attract, engage, and retain Gen Z talent should foster connection between interns and your brand and their future colleagues at every opportunity.

Foster intern-brand connection before start dates

Image-Foster intern-brand connection before start dates

Creating a brand that resonates deeply with Gen Z is one of the best ways to engage and convert intern talent. Gen Zers — who fill most internship positions — are choosing employers based on corporate morals. In fact, 54% of Gen Zers would reject a firm that doesn’t share their core values. As a result, your company’s mission and purpose are vital to the intern value proposition.

That’s why employers must communicate how their missions and visions align with Gen Z’s values and create an impact-oriented culture. This can be challenging in today’s world of hybrid and remote work, but Gen Zers must connect with the brand at every possible touch point to stay engaged. That includes during relocation.

Because technology is how Gen Zers engage, firms should think “digital” when strategizing how to connect with interns during the moving process. Gen Z is very comfortable participating in social media and online communities, so employers should think about creating a similar experience as interns relocate. Firms can create engagement opportunities for interns to connect with other employees who reinforce the corporate culture.

The onboarding process is one of the biggest opportunities employers have to do this. An article by the Harvard Business Review states:

“Employee onboarding is your opportunity to showcase what a culture of mutual support and well-being looks like to new recruits. …employees who rated their onboarding experience highly continue to hold their organizations in high regard, have higher role clarity, and feel strongly committed to their jobs…Onboarding is less about delivering information about your company, and more about allowing new employees to get to know each other and ask questions in a safe and supportive setting…Onboarding is a community-building exercise where employees can make a new friend.”

Connecting interns to each other allows them to onboard as a cohort and fit into the corporate culture right away. This is possible during the relocation process — before an intern’s first day on the job — with the right workforce mobility platform. Let’s learn how.

Leverage Relocity Guide for Interns

Image-Leverage Relocity Guide for Interns

Relocity’s Guide for Interns solution connects interns to attractive housing, transportation, and lifestyle options through innovative tools and expert-approved content — with unmatched personalization and flexibility. Powered by our AI-driven workforce mobility platform and tailored to each individual’s policy, timeline, and preferences, Relocity Guide walks interns through each step of the relocation process from the Relocity app — to and from the destination. 

Here are a few highlights of the solution:

• Marketplace with supplier discounts: Where interns book discounted relocation services with trusted providers. Choose from our preferred providers or add your own.

• AI-powered neighborhood and housing recommendations: Neighborhood descriptions and short-term housing recommendations from one portal.

• Relocity Map: Customizable map layers that display available housing, transportation options, and things to do with search and favoriting functionality.

• Content: Documentation on local registrations and overviews of each city’s real estate trends, things to do, demographics, weather, and more.

• Announcements: A central place for firms to communicate messages to interns, displaying corporate branding and reinforcing the company mission and vision.

• Automated onboarding: The Relocity registration process that prompts interns to begin their self-serve journeys and enables us to complete individual profiles.

• Goals: Personalized tool for milestone tracking throughout the relocation journey. 

• Intern chat functionality — coming soon: Social tool that allows interns to make connections, join chat conversations, and seek advice from peers.

• Intern activity feed — coming soon: Feeds that display popular topics, locations, events, and services, sorted by preference and relevance.

With Relocity Guide, interns don’t need to face an overwhelming tasklist by themselves; they can complete every relocation step from the Relocity app.

Benefits of Relocity Guide for Interns

For firms

• Enriched intern experience.
• Enhanced Duty of Care.
• Increase in productivity.
• New engagement channel to leverage.
• Data insights on intern progress.
• Increase intern-to-employee conversions.

For interns

• Chance to work with innovative onboarding technology.
• Ability to make more informed housing, transportation, and lifestyle decisions.
• Improved financial, physical, and emotional wellness.
• Connection to brand and each other.
• Personalized and guided experience.
• End-to-end seamless intern relocation experience.

Help interns land softly in new places

Image-Help interns land softly in new places

In conclusion, today’s interns are tech-savvy and prepared for digital transformation. They want three things from their employers:

1. Innovation.
2. Relocation assistance.
3. Brand connection.

To meet these needs for relocating talent, firms should implement a personalized and flexible self-service digital solution like Relocity Guide for Interns that exceeds Gen Z’s expectations. By engaging interns during the relocation process, employers are more likely to get onboarding right and create a better employee experience, serving the ultimate purpose of building a world-class internship program that attracts, engages, and retains top Gen Z talent.

Get started with Relocity’s Guide for Interns solution.

Relocity

Relocity is reimagining the global mobility experience to help companies attract, retain, and engage talent. Learn more about our solutions at Relocity.com/solutions