When interns arrive for their first day of work at online delivery company Just Eat Canada, they are provided with a blank reference letter and informed it’s their job and responsibility to fill the page with things they’ll be proud of over the next three months.
They will end up working in four different departments — finance, marketing, operations and sales — and as they start developing a niche or skill set, they will be assigned to a specific department where they can generate the most output but also gain the most experience, according to Antonio da Luz, sales director at the Toronto-based company.
The individuals start with daily and weekly job duties and eventually take on quarterly projects. For example, they may plan a sales conference and do everything from project management and development to pricing and sourcing, with guidance from managers.
The intern program is not about meaningless tasks but gaining real experience that can be used in a future career, said da Luz.
“They’re able to do things that normal interns wouldn’t be able to do,” he said. “One of our core goals is, by the end of the internship, we want interns to be extremely employable, so they can basically walk into any organization and have a job, and have a proven track record over the last three months.”
Just Eat’s internship program was recognized at the TalentEgg National Campus Recruitment Excellence Awards with a Best Internship/Co-op Program award. TalentEgg is a job board and online career resource for college and university students and recent graduates, and Canadian HR Reporter is one of the award sponsors.
“It’s a great place for individuals coming out of university to come into a fast-growing business, to come in and learn what it’s like to be really hands-on because we are still considered a startup, so we attract very young, high-energy individuals, and we actually go out and look for those folks also,” said Todd Masse, managing director at Just Eat Canada, which operates in 13 countries and has about 1,000 employees, including 100 in Canada.
It’s not just about doing the job but brainstorming new ideas and concepts because the interns are part of Just Eat’s key customer demographic.
“There’s not many opportunities for young adults... first- and second-year university students, to come into a $100-million-plus business and growing and actually get involved in some of the strategic and consumer interfaces that we’re developing literally every day,” said Masse.
Grant Thornton looks for advice
Also a winner at the Talent-Egg competition was Grant Thornton, which was given awards for Best Campus Recruitment Brochure and Campus Recruiting Program of the Year.
The 4,000-employee accounting firm hires about 100 students each year and was recognized for efforts that made it stand out from the pack, such as a 25-page print brochure that directed people to its website.
Students often make big decisions by consulting with others, and this is more easily done with a print product than gathering around a computer screen, said Paul Peterson, national talent resource manager at Grant Thornton in Toronto.
“There’s no shortage of accounting students but there’s a lot of competition for really, really good ones and we wanted really to separate ourselves from the market, so the brochure is bright and colourful and it’s actually a departure from the trend nowadays, which is smaller, smaller, shorter and shorter,” he said. “Digital works great but people still like to sometimes have something like that to look through.”
The brochure also uses catchy but humourous words of advice — the theme of the overall campaign — such as “Don’t eat yellow snow” or “Always stay two drinks behind your boss.”
“The humour was something that really caught people’s eye because it’s not usually associated with our industry,” said Peterson.
The brochure profiled seven Grant Thornton employees who were newer to the company and was distributed at about 40 schools across the country. It also featured QR codes so the company could track visits to the website, and those numbers definitely went up, he said.
Numbers were also up thanks to the recruiting program. Looking to boost interest from certain key markets, Grant Thornton saw applications grow by more than 70 per cent in Edmonton and 50 per cent in both Victoria and Winnipeg, said Peterson.
The campaign included print advertising in high schools along with ads directed at first- and second-year university students, campus career videos, live chat sessions through TalentEgg, job alerts and share buttons on the corporate website, microsites and a Twitter channel.
To further stand out, the company asked people to write a piece of advice on a large post-it note which was then stuck to its booth. In some cases, prizes were given out for the best advice and the process also helped as part of a selection strategy, said Peterson.
“It allowed us to find out, in a different kind of way, the type of people we really wanted to attract were the ones comfortable doing something like coming up and giving their own piece of advice and sticking it up there.”
MasterCard embraces social media
In the second year of a social media campaign, MasterCard Canada ramped up its efforts with help from its advertising agency, MacLaren McCann, and was rewarded with the Best Online Campus Campaign award from TalentEgg.
In 2011, the company was looking to do more than the usual postings on corporate websites in attracting intern candidates, according to Ryan Timms, vice-president and group account director at Mac-Laren McCann in Toronto.
“The company itself was evolving, becoming much more digitally active across both traditional digital channels as well as social channels, so there was a desire to bring some people in who could complement that evolution, so not only smart, bright, determined students but also people who possessed a certain digital savviness. That led to this idea of the ‘social interview.’”
To participate, people first had to “like” MasterCard on Facebook. They would then go to LinkedIn to submit their resumés as well as any other creative content “that would demonstrate their enthusiasm and their creativity — out-of-the-box thinking that would make them a more attractive candidate,” said Timms.
Participants could then follow MasterCard on Twitter to see if they made the short list of candidates, “so having people migrate from one social hub to another gave us that ability to get people who were obviously active and versed in those areas,” he said.
For the 2012 campaign, the company added a more specific task that made the recruitment more challenging and targeted. People were asked to provide their thoughts on a cashless society, an issue that is relevant to MasterCard’s business.
“It made it a much more challenging… application process because it wasn’t just open — you were now competing with other people’s thoughts and ideas, and also the creative ways in which you could express those thoughts and ideas,” said Timms.
The second campaign generated better applicants because the process was harder, which “really helped us whittle down to the best of the best,” said Timms, adding MasterCard also saw a lot more activity in social and digital channels, with a big spike in followers on Twitter. The campaign is set to launch in the United States and parts of Asia in 2013, he said.
TalentEgg award winners
Seven Canadian employers were presented with TalentEgg National Campus Recruitment Excellence Awards for their achievements in attracting and recruiting post-secondary students and recent graduates over the last year:
Best Campus Career Website: Bell (www.bell.ca/campustocareer)
Best On-Campus Campaign: PwC Canada
Best Campus Recruitment Brochure: Grant Thornton
Best Internship/Co-op Program: Just-Eat
Best Mobile Campus Recruitment Initiative: Accenture
Best Online Campus Campaign: MacLaren McCann for MasterCard Canada’s “social interview” campaign
Campus Recruiting Program of the Year: Grant Thornton
Campus Recruiter of the Year: Nancy Moulday, manager of recruitment at TD business banking.
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