Ask an intern what’s the most stressful part about accepting an out-of-town position and chances are you’ll hear: “Short term housing.” Ask an employer what’s the most stressful part of hiring interns from out of town and they will probably say the same thing.
Short term housing is one of the most crucial, yet challenging, intern program benefits to administer. The stresses of finding and securing a place to live for three months can result in anxiety for both you and your relocating intern, and if not done correctly, can lead to huge cost implications and failed assignments.
Some companies may offer a lump sum to help their interns, but this option may not eliminate as much stress as many Program Managers would hope. A lump sum requires the intern to research the housing market, find a suitable option on their own, and possibly still front the rental costs. Without direction and assistance from Program Managers, lump sum programs typically result in confusion and create additional risks to the overall success of intern assignments.
To attract top talent and ensure success for your Intern program, providing vetted short term housing options and paying some (or all) of the associated costs for short term housing has proven to be most-effective. Here are three reasons why.
1. Quality Control Assurance
Interns who are tasked to find their own housing for the summer are almost always going to look for the cheapest option. Because most interns are financially strapped college students, it’s not likely that they’ll be willing or able to drop several thousand dollars on a place to live for three months. The result could be disastrous for both you and your interns.
Many platforms targeted specifically for interns offer deals that are sometimes too good to be true, and they unfortunately prey on naïve victims. Asking interns to wire rent money or give up personally identifiable information can be “red flags” that your interns may not notice. Rental scams have become more common over the last few years and interns looking for the best deals can sometimes fall victim to these schemes. Interns who are not familiar with housing best-practices and quality control checkpoints may be at the most risk.
Another consideration is the quality of housing your interns will have if they look for the cheapest option. While there’s nothing wrong with affordable housing, it’s important that your interns feel comfortable with the place where they will be living over the course of their internship. If your interns are living in area that’s unsafe or an apartment that’s unclean and poorly cared for, it could affect their performance at work and their attitude about the internship.
Providing short term housing options puts you in control of the housing experience your interns will receive. If you can work with your temporary housing partner to provide an approved list of housing options and are willing to subsidize some (or all) of the rent, you can ensure that your intern class isn’t going to be subjected to rental scams or choose housing based solely on price. A negative housing experience can negatively impact your intern’s overall impression of your program, but demonstrating that you care about the living conditions of your interns will contribute to a positive impression of the company and possibly affect the likelihood of them accepting a full-time offer
2. Timing is Everything
Did you know that some programs start securing their intern housing more than a year before the actual stay? Timing is everything in short-term housing. If interns start looking too early, the options they find may not still be available by the time they’re ready to sign a lease. If they start looking too late, they may miss out altogether.
Companies that offer sponsored lodging arrangements for their intern programs have the benefit of working with trusted, experienced temporary housing providers who can utilize their own buying power and industry relationships to create the best possible solutions for each intern. By utilizing the expert knowledge of a trusted temporary housing provider, you can ensure your interns will not be left in the lurch.
3. Reduces Intern Anxiety
Finding viable housing for their stay in addition to mentally preparing for their new role within your company creates an enormous amount of stress for new interns. Chances are, your interns have never done this before. They are used to college dorms or signing year-long apartment leases in student-friendly communities. The interns’ lack of experience with the nuances of short-term housing may create frustration and anxiety, causing them to begin their assignment with a negative impression of their new company.
Unfortunately, as many of us may know all too well, this stress related to intern housing won’t be restricted to just your interns. You’ll be feeling it too. One-off questions will be coming at you from various interns at various times throughout the process.
By investing the time and energy up front to create a relocation benefit for short-term housing, and working with a dedicated, experienced temporary housing provider, your company can continue to attract the top talent and ensure their focus remains on the job at hand.