Employers who have utilized the Student Internship-Union Mentoring model have described such an initiative as a valuable workforce development tool. Participating employers specifically indicate that workforce recruitment and retention and fostering workplace diversity are centerpieces of their engagement in an internship-mentoring program. Employers also recognize that providing paid student internships within the context of a structured union mentoring program is an important public service and is a highly visible demonstration of good corporate citizenship within the local community.
Recruiting and retaining the next generation of workers can be expensive. And employers know that it is a real challenge to find a new employee who truly comprehends what she or he is being hired to do and who fits well within the workplace culture. Through a paid Student Internship-Union Mentoring Program, however, employers have an opportunity to introduce potential future employees to all aspects of their workplace. And, potential employees of tomorrow have an opportunity to experience a particular workplace and the occupational paths it provides and to determine if this is a place at which they might aspire to work.
In Their Own Voices
Hear some employer representatives who participated in the initial (2000) IBEW — Verizon Communications rollout of the Student Internship-Union Mentoring Program Model enthusiastically describe how such a program is indeed worth their investment.
Employer Roles and Responsbilities
These are some basic expectations of a Student Internship-Union Mentoring Initiative’s management partners:
- Commit to program funding — including funding for student wages; materials and safety equipment expenses; and release time for mentors and planners, for mentor training, and for a labor history day experience;
- Work with the union to identify appropriate paid job placements for student interns;
- Ensure a smooth employment process for student interns;
- Provide supervisory oversight, and serve as a visible program proponent within the workplace;
- Communicate management’s full commitment to program planning and successful implementation and ensure the timely flow of information about the program to all supervisory levels;
- In collaboration with the union, identify, coordinate outreach to, and maintain relationships with participating schools;
- Participate in the student recruitment process, in partnership with union personnel;
- Identify opportunities for program visibility and recognition;
- Engage in timely problem-solving when needed;
- Provide feedback that will assist both union and management in program improvement.