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min read

Interns need more than lump sums to find housing

A scorching job market gives top students the power — but not the money — to take any internship they want

Are interns getting what they need from your internship program? If your firm doesn’t help them find housing, they might not be.

The topic of corporate housing has resurfaced now that more employers are expecting interns to work from their offices (as opposed to signing on virtually). Rather than helping interns source housing, companies are providing lump sums or stipends to offset the cost of living arrangements, including rent, groceries, and commuting costs. In fact, a 2022 Cartus pulse survey found, to help interns pay for housing, 50% of the responding employers provide a lump sum or per diem. If interns are lucky, their employers might be able to share contact information of temporary housing providers.

Historically, employers haven’t opted to manage intern housing because:

  1. Housing is hard to manage, especially in expensive and competitive markets. According to Weichert’s 2022 Interns and Mobility Survey, 57% of respondents cited insufficient housing supply as the hardest part of managing their intern programs.
  2. Employer-subsidized housing is costly.
  3. Employers may not have knowledge on intern housing. In fact, 39% of the Weichert survey respondents confessed to lacking expertise on intern housing.
  4. Employers recognize that flexibility is an important benefit for entry-level talent. When interns source their own housing, they have more options for living arrangements.

However, traditional lump sums and stipends are falling short, and corporate housing is becoming a hot benefit that:

  1. Makes interns more likely to convert into full-time employees.
  2. Reduces talent acquisition costs.
  3. Bolsters corporate reputations.

Aside from these high-level benefits, firms should offer more than lump sums and stipends for intern housing for three key reasons:

  1. Attract top talent.
  2. Improve the intern experience.
  3. Provide the support interns need.

1. Attract top talent

Relocity Attract Top Talent Intern Blog 1

2022 has seen a rare talent war for interns, with students who secured internships several months ago continuing to look for better offers. The Wall Street Journal reports: 

“Many college students are juggling multiple summer internship offers as companies try to lock in entry-level talent. So fierce is this year’s competition, recruiters and career advisers said, that some students are reneging on summer stints they accepted back in the fall as recruiters barrage them with interview requests and richer offers. Companies and colleges say reneging is still rare, but it is becoming more pervasive in the current recruiting frenzy.” 

Interns’ willingness to search for shinier offers isn’t unlike the job-hopping culture of the Great Resignation. Just as the Great Resignation is motivating employers to improve compensation packages, the current intern war is prompting companies to build more attractive programs for Generation Z talent.

One way employers can broaden candidate pools, stand out from the competition, and attract top interns is to provide corporate housing for the duration of internships. Extended-stay hotels, university dorms, and company-owned apartments are popular housing options that create a uniform experience for interns. Extended-stay hotels in particular are advantageous because they include building security and might come with dining options that minimize the need for grocery shopping. The National Association of Colleges and Employers advises firms to set clear expectations around housing eligibility so equal treatment of interns is never in question.

Depending on the proximity of intern housing to corporate offices, transportation also comes into play. Employers can elevate their entry-level programs by arranging travel to and from offices for commuting interns. Firms can:

  • Provide shuttle service.
  • Offer transportation passes.
  • Reimburse interns for rideshare.
  • Provide monthly commuter credits.
  • Arrange company carpools.
  • Coordinate loaner bikes.

Such factors contribute to the broader intern experience and weigh heavily on talent deciding whether or not to work for your firm in the future.

2. Improve the intern experience

Relocity Improve Intern Experience Blog 1

A bad experience in a new city makes any intern unlikely to stay with your firm after graduation and could even risk your brand’s reputation. To increase your chances of keeping interns on board, you must understand and address student needs. Top interns want a seamless and holistic experience during and beyond the workday, including:

  1. Area orientations and recommendations. Employers should help interns acclimate to the office and surrounding region, especially if a student hasn’t relocated before. To feel at ease, interns and their parents/guardians need information about local medical services, grocery stores, gyms, and more. Employers can partner with global mobility experts to share local expertise, troubleshoot moving problems, and guide interns through every step of the relocation process. For example, assisting interns with travel to and from the internship location goes a long way in building trust. This level of assistance gives companies an edge in the war for fresh talent by greatly supporting the intern experience. The less an intern struggles with relocation, the more valuable they feel, the more productive they become, and the more likely they are to convert into a full-time employee upon graduation.
  2. An inclusive culture. To interns, the company culture inside and outside of work hours is important. Companies can boost their diversity and create equitable intern experiences by closing gender and race disparities in their internship cohort and providing relocation assistance. Employers can also facilitate social meetups and living arrangements between interns and other team members to help young talent assimilate to corporate life. Interns who live with or near each other get the perk of impromptu get-togethers, which also boosts the overall internship experience.
  3. Supporting technology. Gen Zers expect technology to support processes, so employers should leverage applications that create personalized, seamless intern experiences. Workforce mobility platforms let interns complete every step of the process from one app. Bonus features like interactive maps, personalized content, and branded communications help interns maneuver new terrain. Workforce mobility platforms also enhance socialization beyond traditional in-person events and program time frames by connecting interns to each other before, during, and after a program’s start and end dates. One of the biggest benefits of implementing such technology is introducing interns to potential roommates. By creating opportunities for interns to self-select roommates, firms can avoid exacerbating problems around intern housing, which can result from lack of connection. The advantage of incorporating technology into the intern experience is clear: Well-guided talent is productive talent.
  4. Stipends and financial education. Another key issue for intern populations is money (or lack thereof). Because interns have less life experience, they typically need more assistance supporting themselves financially and managing budgets than seasoned employees. Gen Z interns, especially in marginalized or underprivileged groups, have less cash than other demographics as a result of student debt and depleted savings, thanks to job loss during the COVID-19 pandemic. An article by the Economic Policy Institute describes the pandemic’s impact on young workers:

“The overall unemployment rate for young workers ages 16–24 jumped from 8.4% to 24.4% from spring 2019 to spring 2020, while unemployment for their counterparts ages 25 and older rose from 2.8% to 11.3%. Spring 2020 unemployment rates were even higher for young Black, Hispanic, and Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) workers (29.6%, 27.5%, and 29.7%, respectively). Young workers are more likely to be in jobs impacted by COVID-19.”

In fact, Zippia Research found that over 50% of employees are disengaged at work due to stress, which leads to decreased productivity. Employees understand the impact stress has on them. According to a survey of 1,505 full-time U.S. employees, 41% of workers said stress makes them less productive. And relocation stress, especially when it relates to their accommodations and finances, can take a big toll on their overall enjoyment of your internship program. To reduce intern stress around relocation, employers can set expectations on the moving process — including the state of the supply chain — and use technology that guides talent through every step.

To summarize, since entry-level talent don’t typically have the means to cover home-finding expenses, employers should help interns source housing. Firms see the benefit of this approach in productivity: Less-stressed interns are more engaged and productive interns. A smooth and comprehensive intern experience helps employers fill future talent pipelines. To deliver a world-class intern experience, firms should aim to reduce the amount of time talent spends on moving and settling-in tasks, provide opportunities for socialization, and implement personalized technology solutions. Ultimately, positive experiences with your brand make you a workplace of choice.

3. Provide the support interns need

Relocity Provide Intern Support Blog 1

Lastly, as you build out your intern program, consider Duty of Care: the moral obligation of employers to protect their transferees during assignment and relocation from undue risks. While an intern is traveling 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 firms avoid situations that might jeopardize their brand reputations. To safeguard their interns and reputations, 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.

Employers should build as much relocation support into internships as possible to help young talent navigate difficult housing markets and cover unforeseen expenses. Consider the markets you’re pulling interns into. If you host internships in major cities and don’t help with home-finding, you’re asking inexperienced, college-age talent to secure living arrangements in expensive and competitive markets. Interns could fall victim to leasing scams and even violent crime if they don’t know which areas to avoid. 

How tough is the United States housing market? The Cartus pulse survey sheds light on current conditions:

“In 2022, the real estate market remains highly competitive, which contributes to the overall lack of housing. For U.S. domestic internships, the nationwide scarcity of rental housing is a critical factor reshaping internship programs.” 

University dorms may not be a reliable source for corporate housing right now, either. A Los Angeles Times article notes, “About 9,400 [University of California] students systemwide were denied university housing this fall because of shortages — and some campuses are back to squeezing three students in a dorm room as a stopgap.” To secure housing, students are taking on multiple jobs, getting loans, and co-signing leases with guarantors who earn four times the monthly rent. 

Despite this housing crisis, 57% of the Cartus pulse survey respondents aren’t helping interns find housing, which can create problems for young workers who don’t understand moving timelines or budgets, and can find themselves in unforeseen predicaments. To keep interns safe, employers can:

  • Educate interns on destinations through area, financial, cultural, and language orientations.
  • Provide tools for interns to connect with each other to discuss topics, collectively answer some of their own questions, and solve some of their challenges. You can also contribute to the discussions. 
  • Implement technology that gives employers the insight they need to help interns. Workforce mobility platforms provide customizable data showing where interns are in the relocation process. 

Ultimately, giving interns the support they need comes down to one thing: Duty of Care. Employers that want to take care of their interns should prioritize safety above all else. Protect interns by providing as many relocation resources as possible — because it’s the right thing to do.

Gen Zers need more than money, or they’ll reconsider

Relocity Gen Zers need more than money Intern Blog 1

Employers need to offer more than lump sums and housing stipends to improve the intern experience and remove common pain points. To meet the needs of today’s interns, look for ways to guide them through a holistic relocation leveraging local expertise and technology that:

  • Helps them identify safe, convenient housing for interns.
  • Provides a holistic, seamless experience.
  • Offers step-by-step guidance and duty of care support.
  • Communicates with interns.
  • Helps interns with stipend payments.

By giving interns what they need to have a great experience, you’ll be much more likely to convert them into new hires at the end of every internship.

To learn more about getting interns what they need, click here.

Relocity

Relocity is reimagining the global mobility experience to help companies attract, retain, and engage talent.