June 22, 2021

Getting Creative in a Tight Job Market – Interns and Returnships


Companies can get creative with their workforce in multiple ways. In part 1, we looked at opportunities for freelance and consultant talent — when it’s optimal to incorporate these types of roles and how best to go about doing so.

In part 2, we’re looking at two other creative ways to add talent: internships and returnships. These roles embrace the power of atypical job seekers, i.e. students looking for their first job or parents and caregivers getting back into the job market.

Let’s dig in.

Bringing On Internships and Returnships

What’s the value of internships? 

Let’s consider why companies bring on interns, how they go about doing it and how they set up their interns for success. We’ll look at ourselves to break this down.

Hirewell first brought on an intern around 2014. It was a disaster. Great kid, but we were only 20 people, and nobody had time to help him. We learned a lot—mostly that we weren’t ready to do it again. We also learned about how we could’ve done better by:

  • Clearly defining the role
  • Tasking somebody as the intern’s mentor or leader
  • Having an overall plan with objectives and responsibilities

We’ve since embraced the internship strategy. Why? Because it’s allowed us to bring on people in areas where we needed help and weren’t accomplishing much because we didn’t have the time. We needed people not afraid of rolling up their sleeves and doing lower-level work.

Still, with each intern we bring on, we continue to ask ourselves questions: Is there enough work for a dedicated person? Do we have someone who is available to manage them and provide feedback? Does the person have the drive to seek out more, or do they sit in a corner and wait for tasks?

And at Hirewell we’ve just scratched the surface. Next week we’re going to highlight some internship best practices and how top organizations utilize interns to get ahead in a competitive labor market.

What exactly is a “returnship?”

This strategy specifically targets parents or caregivers who have left the workforce. There can be a stigma for anybody who has not worked in awhile, but whether it’s raising a family or taking care of any family-based situations, such as sick family members, this is a way to bring people back in.

A returnship position doesn’t have to be 40 hours a week either. The person may be able to work part time or remotely. They often will be open to starting on a project or consulting basis (see Part 1 of this post).

And bonus: sometimes the talent or experience seekers have been overlooked simply because the person has been out of the workforce. It’s good for boomerang employees and a great way to tap into highly skilled people. A lot of companies have been doing this for years, but many more haven’t even thought about it.

Another bonus: Returnships are a great way to diversify your organization. In case you are in to that sort of thing. And we hope you are.

More blogs from Matt Massucci

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