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min read

[Recap] Relocity’s roundtable on best-in-class internship programs

Uplifting internship programs by prioritizing housing, cost efficiency, and engagement strategies

As summer comes to a close, organizations are reviewing this year’s intern program performance and starting to plan for 2024 with their university talent teams. 

To support this planning, Relocity hosted our fourth virtual event as part of our corporate roundtable series: Moving Forward. These roundtables bring corporate mobility professionals together to engage in open conversations and benchmarking around key topics.

On August 24, Sally Harris, Global Domestic Relocation Design Manager at Intel along with Intel’s Project Managers for their United States/Canada Intern Program, Melissa Mullaly and Cynthia Latorre, joined Relocity’s Moving Forward host William Taylor to discuss best-in-class intern program management.

We began our roundtable by learning more about Harris, Mullaly, and Latorre’s roles and Intel’s corporate internship program, which runs year-round. While Mullaly and Latorre represent Intel’s American and Canadian corporate internship program, Harris supports the firm’s global mobility initiatives, including intern relocation.

The intern experience is close to Harris’ heart. She explained that she joined Intel’s Chandler, Arizona site in the summer of 2013 as a finance intern, working in the IoT Group (IOTG). “I loved my internship…My class of interns are still really good friends. We were a really close knit group,” she said.

Embarking on her adventure, Harris received an offer as her internship ended. She returned to Intel in a full-time finance role at the company’s campus in Hillsborough, Oregon. Over the course of five enriching years, Harris held roles within Intel's finance team that also introduced her to the realm of human resources. “I…fell in love with HR. I fell in love with the idea of working for the people of the company,” she recalls. Harris’ professional journey at Intel and passion for HR culminated in her transition into the organization’s global mobility division in 2019.

As we delve into the design of corporate intern programs, Harris’ experience stands as a testament to the multifaceted nature of professional growth. Join us as we explore critical facets of corporate internships – from addressing housing and transportation needs to balancing cost considerations, cultivating a positive intern experience, and charting a course toward seamless conversions. This blog also covers the roundtable discussions around intern engagement and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

Meeting intern expectations and creating a positive experience

As the roundtable kicked off, Taylor prompted the Intel team to share their approach to managing intern expectations and crafting an enriching employee experience. Mullaly discussed the organization's unwavering focus on the entire intern experience, from the initial onboarding through the conclusion of their internships. Integral to Intel’s approach is an annual intern sentiment survey that unveils invaluable insights into the program aspects that resonate most with interns. As Mullaly aptly mentioned, themes such as managerial support, engaging projects, career development prospects, and forging meaningful connections rank high among intern priorities. This feedback guides the Intel team as they shape program offerings and share vital information around intern aspirations with business units. Intel tailors its intern manager training to include guidance on dialogues about career trajectories. 

Mullaly also emphasized the need to weave these themes into virtual, hybrid, and on-site intern experiences alike to ensure a holistic and rewarding experience. 

Harris also noted housing as a key challenge that comes through these surveys. She underscored the importance of including relocation-focused questions in surveys to provide global mobility teams with insight into improving that part of the experience. Harris highlighted the significance of partnership and understanding intern goals. She said the team completes the cycle by answering intern questions, considering pain points when crafting policies, and distinguishing between survey feedback that’s related to relocation versus intern program management.

Supporting home-finding

Taylor then asked about Intel's approach to supporting interns during home-finding. Intel’s team has identified securing temporary housing as an important intern pain point. Harris acknowledged the challenge of providing housing due to cost, a sentiment shared by many of the attendees. While Intel doesn't provide housing or engage in roommate matching, the organization thinks outside of the box to help interns find living accommodations. Harris described the destination services Intel provides to support home-finding, negotiate leases, and more. Taylor shed a bit of light on Intel's collaboration with Relocity, a partnership that has appreciably enriched the tech giant’s internship program.

From here, Taylor asked about the perception of housing benefits within the context of competitive intern salaries. Taylor reflected on whether intern compensation removes the need for additional housing or relocation support. This idea aligns with Intel's philosophy of providing competitive pay to empower interns to manage their housing expenses independently.

Providing transportation options

The conversation shifted from home-finding to commuting as Harris asked the group for transportation recommendations for on-site and hybrid interns. She described her understanding of a growing trend: Interns lack their own vehicles.

Taylor, joining the conversation, acknowledged the diversity of Intel's locations and how access to strong public transportation networks varies. He also explained how shuttle buses can play a role in bridging these gaps. 

Harris commented on Intel's commitment to helping interns cover commuting costs through stipends, especially in places with fewer transportation options. She shared that Relocity’s comprehensive local insights on mass transit and routes have been helpful for Intel’s interns, even in regions like Arizona where cars are more of a necessity.

A fellow attendee added their perspective, highlighting the complexity of the issue, including previous attempts with Uber vouchers, stipends, and carpooling lists. The common theme across the discussion was the constant endeavor to strike a balance between convenience and flexibility.

An attendee from Intuit shared his experience with stipends, reflecting that interns enjoy the freedom to decide how to utilize this type of support. This strategy showcases the power of flexibility in addressing diverse commuting needs.

Taylor took the conversation a step further by raising the topic of alternative transportation methods like e-bikes. Harris shared that Intel's attempt at bike sharing in Oregon produced mixed results.

Overall, the discussion encapsulated the intricate challenges surrounding intern commuting and the variety of strategies organizations are employing to overcome these hurdles head-on. The dialogue underlined the importance of evolving alongside shifting transportation trends.

Containing costs

Taylor changed topics to a key consideration for global mobility teams: cost. He asked Harris, “How is Intel viewing cost containment in light of your internship program. Have you implemented any strategies [on that front]?”

Harris advised that Intel hasn't yet introduced explicit cost containment strategies from a relocation perspective, although some business units have contemplated the need to provide relocation assistance. Harris’ stance is firm and resolute: On-site internships merit relocation support to ensure equitable experiences. Mullaly and Latorre have lent cross-functional support to this view in companywide discussions around intern relocation.

Harris mentioned that the approach can change for hybrid or virtual interns, emphasizing that business trips to office locations are a financially viable option. Business trips, unlike relocations, carry tax advantages. Taylor chimed in, underscoring the importance of comparing expenses for business trips against relocation costs.

It was clear from the discussion that Intel's commitments to intern well-being and fiscal responsibility converge in a strategy that navigates the complex web of relocation logistics, while providing the best possible support to talent.

Hitting conversion targets

As the roundtable continued, Taylor shifted the spotlight onto Intel's intern conversion goals. With an air of curiosity, Taylor inquired, “I'm curious about your conversion goals for interns. Are you giving offers at the end of the internship?”

Latorre stepped in to share the organization's strategic approach to internships. Intel’s intent, Latorre conveyed, is firmly anchored in fostering a dynamic pipeline of strategic talent. She said the core strategy revolves around conversion, nurturing the potential to seamlessly transition interns into full-time roles.

Intel orchestrates a comprehensive engagement journey spanning company leaders to facilitate vital discussions that underpin the hiring pipeline. If conversions are temporarily constrained in some business units, Latorre shared that their team facilitates communication across business units, identifying potential alternative avenues for interns whose conversions might be deferred. Latorre's approach includes alignment with Intel’s broader campus strategy to keep the team on the same page when it comes to conversion timing and the quantity of interns entering the fold.

Engaging interns

Taylor then asked how Intel’s global mobility team supports intern engagement, honing in on technological resources. Latorre unveiled Intel’s ongoing benchmarking to understand how to maintain intern connections, exploring potential tools and resources that enhance the intern experience.

Harris chimed in, emphasizing the importance of connecting interns with one another through a technology-driven forum. She described a platform that could not only foster intern engagement within Intel, but also encourage interactions to spark collaboration and learning. Taylor highlighted Relocity's strides in addressing this gap, revealing a community feature that aims to bring interns together for networking, roommate searching, and interactions. Latorre added that Intel's campus relations team actively nurtures relationships by allowing passionate employees to bring alma mater talent on board. 

Taylor also asked if Intel tailors programs for PhDs and MBAs, and the responses from Mullaly and Latorre emphasized that Intel’s support spans across all intern categories. Latorre highlighted Intel's holistic approach, which gives interns exposure to diverse avenues. While business unit programs cater to specific focuses, the overarching corporate program encourages a cross-disciplinary approach.

Enhancing DEI

At this point, Taylor transitioned to open discussion and introduced the topic of DEI into the conversation. He shed light on initiatives like Eleven+, which amplifies internship opportunities for underrepresented and diverse communities within the mobility industry.

Harris jumped in to share how she writes inclusive policies, emphasizing the need to consider various socio-economic statuses, abilities, and other factors. She acknowledged the challenge of creating a policy that covers everything, and advocated for a strategy of controlled flexibility. Harris believes in empowering interns to make decisions that best suit their unique needs with flexible benefits and choice points. She brought up the idea of allowing interns to choose the type of support they receive: stipends or housing assistance. Ownership over choices, Harris believes, enhances the intern experience. Taylor added that flexibility not only supports individual needs, but can also lead to cost savings.

An Intuit attendee raised a pertinent concern about roommate matching in the context of DEI. He explained that Intuit typically pairs roommates based on gender, but the evolving way people identify calls for new approaches. Harris advised allowing individuals to self-identify based on their comfort level in surveys with inclusive language.

Taylor expanded the conversation by pointing out the unique opportunity relocation providers have to learn transferee information that can be used to infuse DEI into programs. He also shared that Relocity has supported connecting interns who are geographically close to each other. As a result, organizations can help interns find accommodations and allow them to personally explore potential roommate arrangements. 

Common benefits for interns

From here, an attendee from Apple initiated a conversation about intern benefits. He set the tone by sharing his organization's plans for corporate housing. Apple’s effort to balance intern support and independence highlighted the challenge of providing a safety net, while fostering self-reliance.

The discourse then shifted to Intuit's program, which also covers intern airfare costs. In response to the previous question about transportation, the Intuit attendee revealed the organization’s approach: a stipend to offset transportation expenses, which aligns benefits with a key intern need.

Another attendee suggested splitting housing costs between company and intern. This flexibility caters to cost containment, while ensuring intern comfort. 

Overall, the conversation illuminated the complexity of housing arrangements and uncovered practical considerations centered around the desire to create an environment where interns thrive both personally and professionally.

Leveraging existing partnerships

Harris suggested partnering with providers to unlock benefits for interns. Her vision is to establish a framework where interns can access discounted stays, fostering affordability for the business while providing optional perks like get-togethers and happy hours. This type of initiative would allow interns to choose their engagement level while enjoying the perk of discounted accommodation. 

Another attendee echoed his shared interest in engaging partners to collaborate on elevating the intern experience. This sentiment resonated with Taylor, who emphasized the value of leveraging relationships of internal travel teams. Tapping into established networks holds potential to bridge gaps and offer unique intern experiences.

Managing interns across the globe

The roundtable’s last discussion topic centered around relocation benefits for Canadian interns.

Harris noted that while the support provided to interns outside of the United States is similar, Intel makes adjustments to account for currency differences. The essential support structure remains consistent, reflecting Intel’s commitment to equality across regions.

Harris also highlighted that she’s seeing an encouraging trend: a noticeable increase in the uptake of relocation benefits in areas like India and Asia. These closing remarks offered valuable insights into how Intel is navigating the intricacies of global programs, fostering a sense of belonging and care for interns in different parts of the world.

Relocity’s next roundtable: digital transformation for lump sums

With that, our roundtable wrapped. Stay tuned for information about our next virtual corporate roundtable on digital transformation for lump sums in September 2023, when we’ll bring corporate mobility professionals together again to talk about trends, benchmark, and learn from each other. 

Transform your internship experience today! Learn how Relocity Guide for Interns elevates your lump sum programs, or book time to see this solution in action.


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