ManpowerGroup tries new internship model

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This summer, ManpowerGroup piloted a new approach to traditional summer internship programs; we wanted to elevate the intern experience.

So rather than hiring young people to shadow other employees and stand at the copy machine all day, we put together a cohort of college interns (from both four-year and technical colleges) and gave them challenges to develop innovative ideas about Gen Y and the world of work.

The interns completed weekly “missions” that were designed to uncover the workplace needs of Gen Y – from workspace design to communication preferences. Each week they submitted their work to an online tool where ManpowerGroup employees reviewed it and offered comments and feedback (the process is much like Facebook).

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ManpowerGroup chairman and CEO Jeffrey Joerres and ManpowerGroup interns.

Our objectives in creating this unique intern experience were to:

  • Understand more about Gen Y and how they like to work.
  • Explore a different intern model.
  • Test gaming as a strategy to engage both the interns and our employees in meaningful work “missions.”
  • Build assignments to uncover and understand each intern’s unique strengths.
  • Engage all employees to provide feedback and coaching through the virtual platform.
  • Build a pipeline of talent based on core strengths and achievements.
  • Build relationships with top young talent in an effort to retain them in Milwaukee.

The program was a resounding win-win for both the interns and for ManpowerGroup:

  • The interns developed a digital portfolio of all their work over the course of their eight weeks. They enhanced their skills through feedback and coaching from multiple employees and clients. They were exposed to key executives and senior leadership. And they were given the opportunity to give back to our community through creative volunteer opportunities.
  • ManpowerGroup gained a fresh, Gen Y perspective on our own key issues and challenges. We learned about the use of gaming for testing capabilities and strengths. And we had loads of fun with these smart, creative young people!

Last week, we held a capstone event where the interns showcased the results of their favorite missions and best creative solutions. It was energizing to see what this bright, enthusiastic team accomplished in just eight weeks.

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Although the interns officially packed up their “war room” and cubicles to head back to their respective schools, their legacy lives on. We plan to further evaluate several of their ideas to see how they might be applicable for our business.

And we’re going to keep in touch, sending more missions to our trusted team of Gen Y experts in the coming months. The experiment exceeded expectations for both ManpowerGroup and the interns, and we’re excited to keep building the relationship with potential future employees!

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