We spoke with recruiting leaders at Disney, General Mills and Chevron to hear their insider take on what it takes to succeed as an intern at these companies. All three have thriving internship programs and recruit full-time hires from their intern classes. Read on to hear what it takes to get one of these coveted intern spots, and what you can expect to get out of their programs.
- Angela Knight, University Recruiting, Enterprise Hiring and Strategic Partnerships at Chevron
- Elizabeth Diley, Campus Talent Acquisition Leader at General Mills
- Wayne Hampton, Senior Manager, Campus Recruitment at Disney
How do internships fit in with your company’s hiring goals?
Companies think about internships in different ways: for some, it’s about a temporary employee to get some work done, and for others, it’s a way to build relationships with students that could one day work at the company full-time.
Elizabeth, General Mills: “Being an intern is the best chance of getting a full-time, entry level role at General Mills. In fact, it’s actually difficult to get an entry level position with General Mills if you have not interned here. But if you do get that internship, you won’t have to wonder if you’ll get a full-time offer: for successful interns, we give offers at the end of the summer before the intern goes back to school. We offer over 90% of our interns roles, and typically 85% of them accept. It speaks to the importance of the summer internship program."
Wayne, Disney: “All of the internships at Disney are paid, and we accept all years, but much of our focus is on rising juniors, seniors and recent grads too. And our philosophy is shifting about hiring interns: company leadership has been working to think about long term and conversion strategies: do internship roles map to full-time roles in the company? We are trying to think about our interns’ long term goals, and create opportunities for them.”
Angela, Chevron: “Interns are very important to us, and we make full-time offers to many of our interns. At Chevron, we put a lot of energy and effort in trying to make the experience for our interns one that is of value to them, both in the work they do and how they get it done. We are experimenting with hybrid and fully remote internships to make sure that every intern who is qualified, and wants to work at Chevron, has flexibility in how they do the work.”
What qualities are you looking for in an intern?
Good news: all three of our experts agree that GPA is not a great indicator of workplace success. And they are flexible about majors, too. Here’s what they look for instead.
Angela, Chevron: “Instead of GPA, we are evaluating what students have learned, how they've taken what they've learned and applied it to a problem, and whether they have leadership experience. We want to know if they have grit.”
She adds, “New energies and sustainability are new areas for us as an oil and gas company. So in addition to traditional engineering majors, we are looking for a broader set of skills and experiences.”
Wayne: “At a Handshake-hosted event, we got great data about how GPA wasn’t linked to job performance. After presenting that data to our leadership, we saw some changes: now, 98% of our roles now don’t require a minimum GPA.”
Elizabeth, General Mills: “We have rethought what qualifies as ‘leadership’ on a resume. It’s not just things like being class president— we also look at other indicators. It could mean that the student works during the year at the diner in their college town. There is leadership within that, and how a student talks about those experiences is very, very important.”
How do you support and train interns?
Wayne, Disney: “Based on the team you’re applying to, we will offer very hands-on support in the interview process. We might meet with a candidate before their interview with the hiring manager to help them work on their resume and prepare interview answers. This shouldn't be like a final exam where I'm trying to test you and what you know. I need to set you up for success. Maybe the students have never interviewed before, or they may go to a school where they don't have a lot of resources on campus.”
Wayne adds, “In the conversation with a recruiter, we get to know you as a person, and we compare it to the person you are on paper, and then we can help put both of those together to present the best version of you to the hiring manager.”
Angela, Chevron: “If you come with the basic skills and knowledge, and you’re curious and you're willing to learn, that's probably good enough for us because we're going to train you. Most of our college hires come through a development program, so the skills they need, we teach them. The number one thing that is critical at Chevron is curiosity: you're asking questions all the time, and you want to know what this means, and how X impacts Y.”
Elizabeth, General Mills: ”We are always thinking about how new hires could be a ‘culture add,’ vs. ‘culture fit.’ We don’t want to be hiring the same person over and over, because we need diversity of thought and diversity of how somebody gets work done and diversity of background.”
These recruiting leaders are truly passionate about what they do. Elizabeth says, “I feel recruiting is my life's work. It isn't about just hiring talent, it's about helping students along in the journey of finding what's their best fit and to find their full potential.”
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