Why Student Summer Events Matter

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3 Tips to Build Successful Student Events During Summer Work Terms.

student events
Summer is busy – your team has completed hiring summer roles, its prime vacation season, and you are gearing up for fall recruiting season. This post focuses on how to build students events throughout the summer work term and why they matter.

The first question that might come to mind might actually be: “Why should we?” And realistically, another very valid question – “Is the work experience and the money not enough?”

From my perspective, it would be a lost opportunity if you didn’t create additional student events. They are fantastic marketing and brand building opportunities. At the end of the day, one of your key goals is to have students return home and to campus with amazing stories about the company they worked for this summer.

Of course, supporting interest and experience in the functional area or industry is an extremely important objective too. To me, it’s really about being able to create additional learning, experience and exposure for students presented in a way that creates a great buzz for your company.

3 Tips to Plan Summer Events:

Your available budget will dictate what you can actually organize. As you plan our potential summer events, consider the following items:

1. Define Your Objectives

Identify what you would like to accomplish with each event. What do students need to walk away with? Look at the below 3 categories of events to help determine your goals.

3 key categories of events:


These are events focused on peer networking. Objectives are usually to help students create support networks during their term, unofficial buddy systems that support integration into the company. An example would be a volunteering day. Proving students to get to know each other outside of work while doing something significant to support a (preferably) company sponsored charity.

Exposure Events.

These events are primarily an opportunity for students to interact with senior leaders. However, these events also provide students an opportunity to shine for decision makers in the company. An example would be a student presentation day, allowing students to present a final work term project to senior leaders.

Learning Events.

These are events targeted (the name is a sure giveaway) to learning. An example would be a field trip, a presentation by a specific department, or a training session.

2. Determine Frequency, Timing, and Format

Frequency and Timing

It’s important to strike the right balance between time needed to attend student events and the actual work that needs to be done.

Typically students will also participate in departmental or business unit specific events; ensure you balance frequency and timing of all student events with the work that needs to be completed. I like to think of this as balancing “benefit” and “burden”. At the end of the term, the scale still needs to tip to the “benefit” side if you would like to run your student programs long-term! You need to ensure your company gains ROI on your student program.

It’s important to understand company culture regarding what’s acceptable and common practice. Questions you might want to ask:

  • Should student events be mandatory to attend or optional?
  • Can you host lunch time or after hour events to limit impact to work time but how could that impact your turn out?
  • Should you consider encouraging students to set up their own social events so you can focus on exposure and learning events.
  • In short – a very company specific approach will work best. In the past I have tried to create monthly learning experiences, and a minimum of 2 socials and 1 exposure event over a summer term.


    Finally, consider different formats to help deliver your events – when trying to manage students in different locations, webinars might be an option. Consider an orientation day at the head–office; a field-trip to see actual site locations. There are opportunities galore to build a varied learning program!

    3. Define & Gain Stakeholder Engagement

    Building strong stakeholder engagement and communication plan is especially important to building a successful plan.

    The work that you have already put into identifying objectives, timing, frequency, and format will help you set the stage for strong stakeholder support.

    Key stakeholders to consider are typically the HR organization’s leaders (assuming the Talent Acquisition or management department is “owner” of the student program), business leaders, direct student supervisors, area directors and last but not least, your students.

    Build a TIMELY plan to create buy-in and support for the events (budget, time and resources). Inform stakeholders of events coming up and expectations for all involved and ensure middle management is informed. Strong student events cannot be built without business participation and endorsement. Stakeholder engagement plans, timely communication, and strong execution will support great business outcomes!

    Making Events Matter:

    I summarized the 3 main considerations when building student events. Of course there are many, many other details that come into play when building and executing events.

    I would love to hear about your experiences or feel free to ask me more about my event experience! How have you made your events matters to both your students and your business partners? How do you measure ROI?

    Helen has more than 20 years of experience in Talent Acquisition working in Canada and Europe in a variety of industries including manufacturing, sales & marketing, and currently in Oil & Gas. No matter how challenging a recruitment project seems, Helen’s ability to break daunting goals into actionable steps have been proven time and time again. Watch for Helen's posts on recruiting tips and tricks. Trust Helen as an expert who has staffed projects targeting Olympic athletes, remote merchandizers, and hired over 1,200 students and new grads annually.

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