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Partnering with Local Colleges and Universities

Developing a pipeline of talent for your organization

​Matthew W. Burr, SHRM-SCP

​It is always exciting and rewarding for me, as a professor of business administration and management, to see students successfully interview for and land internships and then full-time jobs. Internships represent a tremendous two-way opportunity for colleges and universities to partner with local businesses. These partnerships can truly make an impact on the educational institution, the partnering organization and, most importantly, the student.

  • Experience and opportunity make all the difference. My HR career started during my senior year in college, when I was an industrial relations intern at a local manufacturer. Fourteen years later, I am still in the HR field. I would not be where I am today were it not for that internship. Look for experiences and opportunities that you can offer to the next generation of workers, because they can make a difference in any profession.
  • Recruit, retain and grow talent. A partnership with an educational institution is a great way for an organization to recruit, retain and grow talent—at the internship level, as well as for full-time entry-level positions. Develop challenges for these workers and be sure they get exposure to top leadership. When I was a summer intern for a Fortune 100 company, we gave an end-of-program presentation to the senior HR leaders summarizing everything we had worked on. 
  • Performance feedback. Proactive feedback on performance is critical to a person's growth and development in an organization. Develop a feedback channel meaningful to the student, your organization and the educational institution. Never be afraid to give direct commentary on what is good and what areas need improvement. To evolve and grow your partnerships, also ask for feedback from the intern and institution. 
  • Mentorship programs. Mentoring is a critical component to any successful internship or entry-level leadership development program. Use an onboarding process that feeds into a buddy system and develops mentors for interns.
  • The SHRM Body of Competency and Knowledge® (SHRM BoCK®). Strategically align your partnerships with the SHRM BoCK, which ensures that all HR professionals have the knowledge, skills and abilities they need to be effective. 

I want to thank every organization that makes partnerships with colleges and universities a priority, because these opportunities make all the difference to early-career professionals. 

Matthew W. Burr, SHRM-SCP, owner of Burr Consulting LLC in Elmira, N.Y., and co-owner of Labor Love LLC, is an HR consultant, an assistant professor at Elmira College, and an on-call mediator and fact-finder for the New York State Public Employment Relations Board. He holds master's degrees in business administration and in human resources & industrial relations, and a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt.


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