DRC Talent Attraction Talk: Recruiters Target Interns in Next Phase of Talent War

Dave Moore, Staff Writer

The war for talent has led to a battle for interns, a panel of recruiters, HR experts, and relocation specialists said at a panel assembled by the Say Yes to Dallas initiative on Feb. 27.

That means Gen Z – those born after 1997 – are drawing new attention from employers, even if it’s just for internships, panelists said.

“Candidates for internships are in the driver seat,” said Melody Lenox, Vice President of Operations at Dallas-based Axxess, which develops health care-related apps and software. “They are very resourceful, and they are seeking out multiple opportunities.”

Along those lines, Lenox said, intern candidates aren’t afraid to say “no” when they object to an offer and expect fast hiring decisions.

“They won’t wait two weeks for you to extend an offer,” she said. “They are going to tell you, ‘I have something else.'”

Lenox and the other panelists said the fierce competition for talent forces companies to adapt their approaches to recruiting and mentoring interns who were born during the internet age. This includes:

  • Texting, Facetiming, or Skyping with them, instead of calling or emailing them;
  • Encouraging typically introverted Gen Z to interact face to face through real-world social interactions; and,
  • addressing interns’ social, quality-of-life, and professional needs during their internships.

Lenox added that she uses the Dallas Regional Chamber’s Say Yes to Dallas website often to help prospective interns familiarize themselves with the region.

Panel moderator Mary Beth Nitz, Vice President of Global Consulting Services at Altair Global, said, “It’s not just about the intern, but it’s about their circles,” reiterating what Lenox said. “One of your main focuses is having an intern leave that experience and be an ambassador for your organization, and market you to their circle of peers.”

Fellow panelist and Dallas Fed HR specialist Jared Fitzpatrick said the Fed’s internship program started in the 1980s, and that now interns want work that has meaning.

One such task involved surveying employees to explore the culture of the Dallas Fed office. Findings were that employees wanted a four-day work week, more community involvement, and more communal space in the Fed office, Fitzpatrick said.

Panelist Sarah Parker, DFW Business Manager for Murphy’s Corporate Lodging, said employers must account for their interns’ workplace locations, and company culture, when setting up accommodations for them.

It’s key to keep interns’ commutes reasonable, and to make sure that their temporary neighborhoods reflect their company experience. She said Murphy’s has worked with both colleges and apartment operators to house interns.

“That’s really important for the interns, to ensure that they have that sense of community once they’re out of the office,” Parker said. “That (results in intern) retention for you, that they feel secure, safe, welcomed, and appreciated by your company.”

Jessica Heer, Senior Vice President of Talent Attraction at the DRC, told attendees that Say Yes to Dallas is more than a talent attraction campaign.

“It’s a dedicated team of educated partners with the resources to help you recruit the best talent,” she said. “If you’re hiring interns this summer, consider using the Say Yes to Dallas Recruiting Toolkit to answer key questions interns might ask about the Dallas Region.”

The toolkit includes key messages, flyers, and an Essentials Guide with My Dallas Story testimonials, a weekend guide, a cost calculator, 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.

Additionally, this summer Say Yes is offering two intern mixers for DRC members: the first is set for 4:00-6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 25; the second is scheduled for 4:00-6:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 16. For more information, contact the Say Yes team at talentattraction@dallaschamber.org.

The Feb. 27 Talent Attraction Talk was sponsored by BGSF, formerly known as BG Staffing, and Altair Global.