ERE Chicago, Day 2: College Recruiting – It’s All About the Interns

When you see a conference session titled Straight from the Source: What’s Really on the Minds of the New Generations of Top Candidates, well, it’s something you just have to hear.

Add in that fact that it is being led by Gerry Crispin and Mark Mehler of CareerXroads, two very smart and savvy guys, and you can see why this not only played to a full house but was also a great way to kick off the second full day of the Fall 2013 ERE Recruiting Conference & Expo in Chicago.

The charm of this session — and it has been done at ERE conferences before — is that it gets bright, young in-demand job seekers (and some are newly hired) to talk about just what it is that they have experienced as interns and first-time job seekers, and how that plays with people of their generation.

No internships? “You have a big problem”

In other words, you get the scoop on best practices in college recruiting right from the very people you are looking for.

One thing that surprised me right off the bat was when Mark Mehler asked how many of the people in the audience worked for companies that had an internship program. I wasn’t in a great spot to do a head count, but it looked to me that no more than half of the audience raised their hands.

Whatever the number was, it was shockingly low, and it drew this comment from Gerry Crispin: “If you are looking at your supply chain and aren’t looking at where your supply chain starts, you have a big problem.”

Yes, an internship program is a must if you want to hire the best and brightest young talent, because the four now-employed former interns on the panel ALL were hired after going though an internship at their employer.

The four new hires were:

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  • Elizabeth Cease, a 2013 MBA graduate of Northwestern’s Kellogg School Of Management, who now works as an associate finance manager at PepsiCo;
  • Kyle Newton, a 2012 Purdue University grad in the IT Development Program at Abbvie;
  • Brittanie Prinz, who graduated from Bowling Green State University in 2012 and now works as a brand manager for Disney Interactive; and,
  • Caitlin Kammerait, from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Class of 2010, who is working as a financial analyst at GE Antares Capital.

What the best and brightest are thinking

The four panelists seemed passionate and engaged in their fledgling careers, and they offered a number of tips/strategies for what recruiters need to focus on to find the best and the brightest young talent. Here are a few of the ones that jumped out at me:

  • Make sure you have interns. All four of these young panelists were able to turn their internships into real jobs, and the point was made over and over that if you don’t have interns, you are putting a serious crimp in your ability to recruit young talent.
  • Use LinkedIn, not Facebook, if you are searching social media for the young up-and-comers. All of the panelists said they use LinkedIn (and Twitter, sometimes) to look for jobs — but not Facebook. Even more troubling, some of these Millennials indicated that they and their friends frequently use pseudonyms rather than their real names when they DO use Facebook.
  • They use alumni networks at their university to help track down graduates who work at the companies they are targeting for jobs. And, they try to target recent grads who may be able to offer insights into the current hiring practices at these organizations.
  • They’re more than willing to pick up and move for the right opportunity. The four panelists drew a distinction between moving for a job and moving for an opportunity, and all of them said that contrary to some stereotypes, they ARE willing to make a move across the country if the company is offering an opportunity that seems to have a lot of upside to it. In fact, a couple of them — Brittanie Printz and Caitlin Kammerait — have already moved around somewhat and are very happy they did.

There was a lot more, of course, but I can’t possibly dig into all of it here. Suffice it to say that these sessions that Gerry and Mark do on occasion with young, up-and-coming talent are ALWAYS instructive because it gives you actual, honest-to-God insight into what the younger generation really thinks about the talent pipeline they are now a part of it.

My advice: you need to take in one of these college recruiting session by the CareerXroads guys whenever you can — if you really care about talent supply chain.

Other Great Speakers From Day 2

Of course, there were other great speakers on the second full day of the Fall 2013 ERE Recruiting Conference & Expo, and as I found on Day 1, there were still too many for me to get to. Here are some of the ones I did attend:

Wish you had attended the Fall 2013 ERE Recruiting Conference & Expo and heard some of these great speakers? Well, you’ll get another chance next April 22-24 at the ERE Recruiting Conference and Expo 2014 Spring in San Diego. And TLNT will be there to cover all of the action — or as much as we can fit into our schedule.

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.


3 Comments on “ERE Chicago, Day 2: College Recruiting – It’s All About the Interns

  1. Nice summary of a fun session putting a face to those millennial stereotypes…in which we always discover that stereotypes don’t really tell the story.

    We are really indebted to the staffing leaders at GE, PepsiCo, AbbVie and Disney willing to share with us for the panel their best hire from college in the last 2-3 years. They saw the added value in sharing and exuded the confidence that they are doing the right things well enough that surfacing top talent won’t likely risk they are stolen.

    I would encourage staffing leaders in any firm to put their best hires in front of their leadership on at least an annual basis and quiz them on their initial experiences as a candidate and employee. Data has little value unless you can put ‘meaning’ into it and linking it to stories from people who are your future…drives it home like no other way I can think of.

    My biggest learning was that these fully engaged, hi-performing, hi-potential young professionals know they always have choices and while a recruiter from the outside might mis-characterize them as ‘passive’ they are anything but. They are extremely active in their thinking and planning around their careers…its just that it is focused on exploring and challenging the possibilities inside their firm rather than outside.

    One correction: Not sure where the ’80 million fake Facebook info came from’ but not from me. I’m fascinated though by the elegant work around that seems to be trending among young professionals to create an alternate identity, known by friends, but mis-leading to recruiters. I suspect the ‘big data’ about degree and other criteria recruiters might search on could conceivably be compromised.

    1. Gerry — I took the 80 million figure out since my notes, and who I actually thought said it must be off somehow. Apologies. Still, it was a great session. Always one of my favorites given the insights that come out of it …

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