Connection Point: Retaining Interns is Integral to Winning Talent War

Jessica Heer, Senior Vice President, Talent Attraction & Leadership

With a national unemployment rate of 4 percent and a local unemployment rate of 3.6 percent, hiring has become  hyper-competitive. Employers have to hire early – and fast.

Internships are powerful tools, driving recruitment strategies and – in a tight job market — they are one of the most important tools in the hiring toolbox.

According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the average cost-per-hire for companies exceeds $4,000 and takes more than 40 days. Add the cost and time to onboard, assimilate, and train interns, and it becomes clear that employers must have a successful intern recruitment and retention strategy in place to fill the job pipeline.


The practice of recruiting non-local talent has become increasingly popular and common – and this includes undergraduate interns. But what about retaining them?

When students evaluate the college intern experience, they evaluate things beyond just the employer, quality of work, and office experience. They also evaluate the experience outside of the office. They’re looking for things to do, to make friends, and gain a sense of feeling at home in the community.

Organizing networking opportunities or mixers with other interns helps them meet and grow their network, and feel at home. This is equally important for interns who have returned home for their summer internships, as they may not have experienced what it’s like to “live like a local” growing up.

If interns can last 8-to-12 weeks in a new place successfully, they’ll likely consider a job opportunity as their internship ends.


In December 2018, the Dallas Regional Chamber (DRC) conducted a nationwide survey of 1,000 millennials age 20 to 38.  Research showed that the primary selling point for attracting young talent to the Dallas Region remains its affordability.

Cost of living can be a huge barrier to entry, ranking above “better paying job” and “lots of activities/things to do” as deciding factors in reasons to move. In fact, 55 percent of respondents listed cost of living as “very important” — higher than any other factor.

It’s at this intersection of a desirable lifestyle and financial freedom where Texas and the Dallas Region are in prime position to leverage their advantages. Dallas strikes the right balance between a bright future and an affordable starting point.


Say Yes to Dallas is more than a talent attraction campaign. It connects the world’s most talented workers with the resources they need to discover the community around them and enjoy a thriving career here for years to come. As employers are designing intern-retention programs, they should consider using the following three Say Yes to Dallas resources:

  1. Marketing materials for orientation packets: Say Yes to Dallas materials include a complimentary Dallas Relocation + Newcomer print magazine and business card promoting digital resources. From neighborhood guides to happy hour hotspots, candidates can get a sense of what living in Dallas is really like. Digital resources include an interactive Essentials Guide with information you can share with your candidates to sell them on a move to the Dallas Region. Additional tools include a cost calculator, testimonials, videos, and a First 30 Days guide with everything your candidates need to do in their first 30 days to get established, make connections, and feel at home in the Dallas Region.
  2. Regional Overview for orientations: A 20-30 minute presentation provided by DRC Talent Attraction staff to interns showing the community around them, including neighborhoods and cost of living, economy and industries, parks & outdoor, getting to work and fun, and the lifestyle and culture of Dallas.
  3. Interns feel at home when they have a large network of friends. Say Yes to Dallas Explore214 Intern Mixers provide interns the opportunity to experience the lifestyle and culture of Dallas outside of the office while they connect socially and professionally with their peers. Registration is open for mixers scheduled for June 26 and July 17.