Recruit and Hire Interns

"Gen Y” interns: 7 Reasons Why They Are Good Hires

"Generation Y." "Generation Next." "Millennials." "Echo Boomers." Even, "The Baby-on-Board Generation." A group known by many monikers, the successors to Generation X have entered the workforce and comprise today's pool of intern candidates.

As with every past generation, Gen Y—or those born roughly between the early 80s and the early 2000s—are often seen as doing things differently by their more established counterparts. And as we're well aware, at some organizations, "different" is approached with apprehension.

But smart employers are embracing the potential of Generation Y to make significant contributions to the success of their organizations…both in the short term, as interns, and down the road, as permanent employees.

Like previous generations, Gen Y can't be lumped into one homogenous group. However, there are certain defining characteristics of today's class of interns. Understanding and knowing how to harness these qualities can be infinitely beneficial to your business.

7 Benefits of Hiring Generation Y into Your Internship Program

  1. Tech-savvy. The first generation to be brought up with computers, members of Gen Y are early adopters. In fact, not only can they uncover, operate, and recommend the most advanced tools and technologies; they can teach you how to use things like content management systems and social media.

  2. Cost-effective. Compared to other populations, Generation Y appears less motivated by money. According to a 2009 online survey conducted by Monster.com, 37% of employers report that "work/life balance and flexibility" is the most motivating factor for Gen Y, with only 17% claiming "compensation" as the primary driver.

    Couple this with Monster's finding that 40% of 2008 graduates still reside with their parents—and seem willing to do so for at least a bit longer—and you've got a group solidly linked to a high ROI.

  3. Team players. If some called Generation X "The Me Generation," we might term Generation Y "The We Generation" for their heightened sense of community and peer-to-peer relationships.

    Events like September 11th and ongoing fears of terrorism have led to feelings of patriotism and a desire to help others. This translates into more of a group mentality and increased collaboration in the workplace…which is never bad for business.

    Meanwhile, for those concerned that this cooperative spirit only extends to other Millennials, think again. By welcoming Gen Y with open arms and practicing a few creative management techniques, Generation Y can work alongside boomers just as well.

  4. Acceptance seeking. Some have termed Gen Y "The Trophy Generation" in response to the "everyone's a winner" mentality and the endless pats on the backs associated with their upbringing.

    Once again, while some see this as a negative, in effect, it can be very motivating: A need for praise and validation often facilitates effort and achievement. So, yes, this will mean they'll need more feedback; but they'll work hard to make sure it's of a positive nature.

  5. Self-expressive. In the Gen Y world, Twitter has taught them to express themselves. And while their parents would have shuddered at this type of sharing, the positive effect has been a group of prospective interns who aren't afraid to put ideas out there. In the workplace, this translates into unabashed brainstorming, generating new solutions and fresh perspectives.

  6. Conscious of the competition. Coming of age in a recession makes Gen Y more aware of job-market competition. So unlike older workers who may be more used to calling the shots in their careers, this generation of interns counts their blessings when it comes to employment opportunities.

    Essentially, they know there are more applicants than openings and that someone is always willing to take their place. Should they actually get a chance in their chosen field, they're more likely to make the extra effort to stay there.

  7. Current. Like any youth generation, hiring Gen Y helps keep your company up to date with social, entertainment, and other market trends. Build a relationship and offer Gen Y'ers an opportunity to grow with your organization, and they'll reward you with continued relevance.

    Employer takeaway: Don't be fooled by bad press. True, Generation Y may be a little different. (Weren't you when you entered the workforce?) But with the right attitude and appropriate management, welcoming Gen Y into your internship program just might make the difference between whether your company soars or stagnates.