Like many other student affairs functional areas, housing and residence life is in the midst of the search process for summer interns. Our office at Indiana University South Bend has served as an ACUHO-I intern host site since 2008; our first interns came on board before our buildings were livable. Our internship legacy is something of which we are particularly proud. They have benchmarked our processes, created publications, researched best practices and contributed to our success. Staying in contact with our former interns, I watch as they continue to thrive in student affairs. I’ve even found a way to involve them in our search process annually.
Because agreeing to spend eight or ten weeks at another institution is a big commitment, I offer our intern candidates the opportunity to conduct a reverse reference check on us. During the week before offers are made, I send an e-mail to all of our candidates with the contact information for our former interns who have agreed to help in this process. I encourage them to use the opportunity to learn more about us, to find out how the experience we offer will help them in the future. I also suggest they ask the former interns about living in South Bend for the summer and making the most of what the area has to offer (author’s note: I suggest this partially because at the time of interviews, we have had so much snow in South Bend that I’m considering moving to Arizona and am not nearly as objective about this lovely city as I should be).
Our candidates who have utilized this opportunity tell me it helped in their decision making process and gave them a different perspective than I, as the intern supervisor, can provide.
On the flip side, of course, is a subtle developmental opportunity for our former interns. As they are preparing to launch into job searches, they are given a chance to actively reflect on one of their professional experiences and think about its long-term benefits and the learning carried forward. Whether they realize it or not, I’m actively engaging them from afar and jogging their memories a bit in preparation for their upcoming interviews.
I love our reverse reference check for all the ways it engages our current candidates and former interns. I also love how it ties our future interns to our former interns, fostering the relationships that are so important to student affairs.
How do you foster learning in the intern selection process? How do you make your institution stand out while also helping candidates find the best fit?