A. Hugh Robertson writes:
Firstly, I applaud your choice to still take on a graduate even though you’ve had to scale your programme down for this year. Graduates still play a vital role in businesses: as you say, they bring fresh vitality and new viewpoints, which are important for staying ahead.
Interns can also be beneficial to your company but it is a mistake to think that they can be used as a direct replacement for permanent recruits.
Having more than one graduate involved in your programme would be a distinct advantage. If you can’t afford to take a group of recruits right the way through your graduate programme, how about taking an apprentice-style approach where three graduates are given a few months to prove themselves before one is offered the permanent job you have available? That way you can add a healthy level of competition as well as minimise the risk to your business of training the wrong person for the job.
If possible, get your graduate to spend a period of time in each department of your business. This will allow them to get a better understanding of how your company works and where their strengths lie.
The culture of your business can also support the new recruit’s development. Let the graduate work with as many members of staff as possible, helping them to understand who they can approach for help and support as their role and responsibilities develop.
Interns and work experience placements can also contribute a great deal to your business. But it is unrealistic to see them as any kind of replacement for full time graduates. However, what these short-term arrangements do allow you to do is road test young talent, which can be an effective way of attracting the right candidates for your graduate programmes in future years. First-rate graduates are great value for money as a resource. We have a number of members of staff that started out on our graduate
programme and have since progressed to key positions within the company.
It is understandable that you have cut back on the number of recruits but I would suggest that ultimately your business will get a good return from spending time and resources getting this right.
Hugh Robertson is a founding partner at experiential marketing agency RPM. He is also part of the Marketing Society and an MCCA board member.