If you are a company that is just starting to think about new grad and intern hiring, it's important to understand why you should start a university recruiting program, the benefits, the challenges, and how to plan ahead. We chatted with Emily Sampson, the University Recruiting & Early Career Program Lead at Amplitude who has first-hand experience building their University Recruiting program into a successful, award-winning program. 

Amplitude formalized their University Recruiting & Early Career Program only about two years ago when Amplitude was about 600 employees. They began to invest heavily in new grad and early career roles, hiring for engineering, product design, product management, finance, business operations, and accounting. Now, with over 750 employees across the globe, they have broadened their hiring to include go-to-market, sales, operations, and analytics roles as well. Every year, Amplitude continues to bring on 15-30 interns, showing their commitment to new talent. Emily shares her learnings, tips on how to get started, and her favorite tools to help manage such a hectic role! 

Getting Started

Who is Considered an Intern or New Grad?

An intern hire could be coming from an undergrad, master's, PhD or MBA program and a new grad is someone who converts full-time, regardless of if they have a few years of experience.

Why Start a University Recruiting Program?

  • DEIB: Early-career programs can have the biggest impact on your organization’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging initiatives. 
  • Cost: Interns are more cost-effective to hire and bring on board than full-time employees and, with the right support and guidance, can easily progress into a full-time role with little to no ramp or training time needed, subsequently saving the business costs of onboarding and training time
  • Long-term pipeline: Hiring interns is an excellent means of creating a long-term pipeline of incoming talent, helping to reduce the workload for recruitment teams and hiring managers.
  • Work-life balance for full-time employees - Having an intern or new grad helps with more tedious day-to-day tasks and can be highly impactful and free up more time for senior employees to tackle strategic projects. Both new grads and interns are just as business-critical to drive impact as more senior level individuals within a company. 

How Do You Know You’re Ready to Start a Program?

  • Leadership buy-in: To ensure success in building a talent pipeline as part of the long-term vision and growth of the company and leadership buy-in are essential.
  • Budget: To build a successful program that brings in the best talent, teams need to have an appropriate budget to cover expenses such as travel expenses, marketing materials, incentives, staffing, technology, onboarding, and training costs.
  • Resourcing: There’s a need to have someone on the team dedicated to resourcing, as this is a full-time role that requires a lot of program management, communications, and visibility throughout the company.

Start Preparing

  • How do you calculate the right amount of interns for you?

    Calculating the right amount of interns for your company can be done by utilizing an intern headcount calculator in collaboration with HRBPs and senior leaders.

    This helps to ensure that departments are growing and are in line with competitor distribution levels. For example, if a company's engineering org is at 4% New Grad distribution and a competitor is at 15-25%, then in order to reach 8% FTE engineers by 2024, a certain number of interns need to be hired, with the expectation that between 50-70% will convert to FTE. This method helps to plan for the future and forecast for the following year in direct partnership with senior leaders of that organization, HRBPs, and finance members.
  • What kind of conversion rates can you expect?

    Anticipate that not all interns will convert to full-time employees. Amplitude has historically targeted a 50-70% conversion rate, but due to the current macroeconomic climate, there is so much unpredictability they have not confirmed the conversion metric rates and goals for the 2023 cohort. Reasons for interns not converting may include a lack of business need for their work (i.e. what type of work they can contribute to if they were full-time), unsatisfactory performance (this includes both work ethic as well as culture add) during the internship period, and the largest being budget constraints.
  • What does a typical year look like for a UR Recruiter?

    The role of a University Recruiter is a busy one! You might overlook all the activities and action items that are required throughout the whole year to ensure everything runs smoothly! Here’s what a typical year could look like for Emily:
Amplitude Calendar

Getting Started With Schools and Students

Start With Your Strategy

When selecting partnerships and schools for your program, it is important to consider how they reflect your program's goals. For example, if the goal of your program is to meet a business need, you should look at the programs and majors offered by the schools to make sure they align with the roles at your company. Similarly, if the goal of your program is to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), you should look at schools that typically have a demographic that fits within your DEI goals.

Great resources that have helped Emily are: DEI-Focused Blogs: The Top HSIs and Top HBCU Business Programs, which talk about Hispanic serving institutes, and information provided by NACE (which helps organizations connect with college and university grads). Additionally, becoming a member of URx and OneReq community has been a great tool to connect with other professionals and gain access to their benchmarking surveys. 

How to Get Connected to Students

Getting connected with students depends on your budget. If you have a bigger budget, career fairs can be an effective way to reach out to students. You can also partner with student development organizations and send messages to different student campus clubs that focus on the demographics you’re looking to recruit. 

Tip from Emily on how she forges strong, ongoing relationships with students: Amplitude hosts more intimate gatherings that invite their ERG’s to talk to student groups in a more intimate setting (e.g. 30 students or less) which has been a proven tactic to build ongoing relationships, utilize current Amplitude employees, and connect students with the culture

What Do Students Care About?

The number one question students ask about is culture. They want to know what the company values are and how they are reflected in the day-to-day work environment. They also care about work-life balance, and how much flexibility the company provides for employees to manage their personal and professional lives. Finally, they care about return offer metrics, such as how past students in these roles succeeded and what has been their hire rates.

Tools and Resources you Need to Successfully Hire New Grads and Interns

Emily shares her recommendations on the tools and team you need to get started and succeed with a university and new grad program:

A dedicated team: At least 1-2 early-career recruiters or team members should be dedicated to this initiative, depending on the size of the program. 

Early career sourcing and nurturing tools
: These are tools that help you connect and maintain relationships with students, for example, RippleMatch, WayUp, Handshake Premium, etc. 

Technical vetting tools:
Given the volume of students that apply (especially for technical roles), you’ll need a technical vetting tool to help you vet every candidate in a fair and efficient way. Examples like Hatchways, HackerRank and CoderPad are often used for SWE intern and new grad roles.  

An onboarding tool:
It’s useful to have a tool for onboarding experiences and evaluating talent once they are in the program, for example, Symba or Abode.

Where Do Companies Go Wrong Most Often? 

When it comes to building a new grad hiring program, many companies go wrong by failing to prioritize visibility and communication. Ensure ROI is communicated to stakeholders and remains visible to senior leaders. Additionally, thinking about long-term planning rather than being reactionary is a must, as so much of the value comes from forecasting, building the pipeline, and being forward-thinking. Companies should strive to look beyond the immediate needs and think a couple of years down the line.

Preparing the Team for University Recruits

Who Needs to Get Involved?

  • Senior leaders: they give you buy-in, budget and help you champion the initiative across the company
  • Finance and compensation team: these teams help you understand the type of funding you need
  • HR business partners: these partners often work closely with senior leaders and together they ultimately drive decisions around funding or growing these programs

What Type of Documents and Resources Do You Need to Prepare for the Internal Team?

Central sheet of budget: have a central sheet that tracks hires and budget associated with the program. Here’s a UR Budget by Quarter template shared by Amplitude. 

Intake Form and Job Kit for Hiring Managers:
The job kit intake form is a great guideline for building and creating new roles and aligning on a job description. Questions this intake form should have are:  
-What is the ideal background or what makes a resume stand out (i.e. majors, experiences, extracurriculars, leadership roles, etc.)
-What representation is missing from your team from a DEI lens?
-What are the most exciting aspects of this role (i.e. selling points for the recruiter to sell to the candidate). 

Intern Manager Playbook:
At the beginning of the internship, provide the managers with a reference document that provides information about the conversion process, mentorship guidance, and the full internship process.

Final Tip:

Lean into those in your community. People in the early career space are really helpful. Join URx, connect with others, and learn best practices from those who have been there and made the mistakes before you!