Moving millennials: intern accommodation trends report

Effective internship accommodation programmes can save companies thousands of pounds in recruitment costs, according to Oakwood Worldwide’s study on internship programme preferences.

Lobby of campus building with young people
The global temporary and serviced accommodation provider's trend report, The Millennial Intern: Work-Life balance shapes expectations for a successful experience, draws on recruitment industry data to show how interns converting to full-time positions can save a company up to $40,000 (approximately GBP32,000).Further, the report shares some of the key practices it believes will support companies to deliver outstanding internship and global talent management programmes through an effective corporate housing offer.

Technology drives preferences

Identifying what makes millennials, also known as Generation Y – those born between 1980 and 2000 – a unique group, Oakwood Worldwide points to technology, the need for work-life balance, a thirst for career flexibility and independence, and a preference for working in a team-oriented, community culture as their defining characteristics.These play out into the most requested accommodation attributes of:
  • a well-matched roommate
  • easy access to public transportation
  • common shared areas
  • close proximity to entertainment
  • a quiet property
  • onsite fitness facilities or local health club
  • free wi-fi and high-speed internet
  • an onsite business centre.
With so many of this generation now entering the workforce as interns, companies are taking note of millennials’ distinct qualities, including their focus on work-life balance, their strong sense of community and their need to be “plugged in” 24/7, all of which dramatically impact what they expect from their internship experience – including housing accommodations, says Oakwood Worldwide in its report.

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How to approach housing costs for internships?

The trend report also balances the considerations for employers of budgeting for intern housing costs with either a lump-sum approach or direct billing.Drawing on its clients' experiences, Oakwood Worldwide suggests that a lump-sum approach, while putting an intern in control, may end up being more costly in terms of administration and satisfaction with the internship as a whole.It suggests this approach can also potentially leave some interns in poor-quality accommodation with fewer facilities and less access to their peer group; elements that are likely to impact on their overall satisfaction with their placement and relationship with the company.For Amy Macleod, programme manager in university relations at IT firm EMC in Boston, Massachusetts, the direct billing approach, works best. “We changed the housing portion of our intern programme from lump sum to direct bill, which makes a much smoother transition for interns and they really appreciate it.”Some of the additional benefits the Oakwood Worldwide trend report identifies for direct billing is consistency of housing for interns, as well as the ability for employers to leverage supplier networks and manage their duty of care.From a talent management, recruitment and retention perspective, a directly managed approach is likely to enable a company to attract and retain candidates for a wider geographic area.

Communicating internship housing programmes

With technology the defining characteristic of the millennial generation, Oakwood Worldwide recommends internship programme managers embrace this when they communicate the housing options.“With our millennial interns, we’ve had to change the frequency – and way – we communicate,” said Julie Hoch, a college recruiter and intern programme manager with Burns & McDonnell in Kansas City, Missouri. “They want information, and they want it immediately and frequently. That’s why they really like the website we provide with all the details about their apartments, amenities and other important information.”“If you have touch points in the beginning and again at the midpoint of the programme, you have a chance to build relationships with interns, correct any issues and increase your satisfaction ratings,” said Richard Franco, senior district manager operations, Oakwood Worldwide.Among Oakwood Worldwide’s recommendations are to provide a:
  • comprehensive communications pack with a welcome letter, details about the accommodation and a list of amenities, any contract and information forms, check-in and check-out procedures and dates, roommate details, and customer service contact information.
  • landing page/special web page with details about the accommodation location; photos of the building, interiors and amenities; a roommate-matching questionnaire (if appropriate); frequently asked questions; transportation information; a list of planned orientation activities; a list of area restaurants, grocery stores and entertainment venues or links to resources with that information; and dates and times of orientation sessions or other important meetings.
  • orientation at the property or at the company’s office to answer interns’ questions, provide an freephone number/customer service contact information to address any issues at the property, and provide overall peace of mind for interns.

Costs v benefits of intern housing programmes

Done well, housing programmes can help ensure internships are converted into full-time employee relationships, saving recruitment costs in the process. To support this, the report offers data that suggests internship programmes have higher retention rates over the short term, and into the medium and longer term.With millennials set to comprise three-quarters of the workforce by 2025, it will be interesting to see how these trends continue to develop and change the world of work as we know it.

For related news and features, see our Human Resources section.

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