Informal interactions help interns’ prospects

Research reveals virtual water cooler conversations are good for young people's careers

Informal interactions help interns’ prospects

Interns who have more face-to-face time with managers are more likely to receive a job offer, according to research by Harvard Business School.

The study, which is yet to be peer reviewed, examined 1,370 new summer interns at a global organisation.

The five-week internships had been adapted to virtual because of the pandemic and the interns, although working remotely, were based across 16 different locations.

Researchers observed three types of interaction between colleagues and interns: the first was those regularly jumping into informal Zoom meetings with staff – sometimes these so-called virtual water cooler conversations were instigated by the intern.

The second was where senior managers publicly answered questions submitted by the intern, and the final situation was group meetings without managers present.

Interns who had more face-to-face Zoom meetings with managers were found to be 4.7 per cent to 7.3 per cent more likely to receive a job offer at the end of their placement.

The study also found that interns were more likely to receive an offer if they were demographically similar in race and gender to their manager.