Text and photo: Geir Anders Rybakken Ørslien
BI is known for its close ties to the business community, of which its internship scheme is an important part. In recent years, its popularity has skyrocketed. After the scheme became available to even more BI students, the number of participants has multiplied. And this benefits more than just the students themselves.
“Getting motivated BI students involved in our daily work for a while is definitely valuable to us as a company,” says Kate Aunaas Ingram, Orkla.
In her role as Vice President for Employer Branding, Recruitment and Talent Management at Orkla ASA, she has been forging strong ties with BI students and staff over the past four years.
“When I arrived at Orkla, I started an organised internship programme with BI, and we welcomed the first group of ‘summer interns’ to Orkla in 2017. Last summer we had 38 BI interns, and this autumn we have 23.”
Why is this such a high priority?
“Because to us it’s a no brainer, a pure win-win situation. When I came to Orkla in 2017, I initiated an analysis to make a survey of why Orkla’s popularity among graduates had been declining for ten consecutive years. One key finding was that important groups of students simply didn’t know enough about us to want to work for us. Another aspect of this is that we, as a big company, are a role model in the business community with obvious social responsibility. That’s why we contacted BI to set up internship collaboration.”
What do you get out of this?
“The fact that we now have in-house interns every year helps make us more receptive to new ideas and perspectives. For example, we recently hosted a virtual career event where we presented the possibilities at Orkla. The programme came about in close dialogue with students and young employees, making it completely different from traditional events featuring lectures by our executive management. The most commonly used word on the feedback form was ‘fun’. We would never have received this type of response if we hadn’t worked closely with BI graduates and interns.”
How did Orkla make the internship scheme more attractive?
“By being attentive to the needs of our interns, which creates genuine ambassadors who return to campus and give highly credible accounts of how things actually work here.”
You have also gotten involved on the BI campus in Nydalen?
“Absolutely. Once I get to know our BI interns, I also look at their strengths and where it might make sense to give them more input. That’s why I’ve been actively contributing to BI’s choice of reading lists in some studies, by making suggestions that could help close the gaps. This is how both parties get stronger by working together.”
Is this also a recruitment channel for you?
“Definitely. Internships are not only an effective way to recruit, it’s also the method with the lowest risk, because you work closely with the students for a few weeks. We’ve seen that those who start out as interns frequently are more successful than others when they take on a full-time position. It also means a lot to have motivated students coming into your organisation with innovative approaches and ideas.”
But many also think that interns demand a lot of extra work and follow-up?
“That soon passes. At first I had to work hard to get my colleagues to see the value of it, but now they’re coming forward and asking for interns. The key is to give the students actual tasks that need to be done anyway, so they also feel that their contribution has real value.
Kate takes us up to a bright corner between the glass partitions at Orkla’s headquarters in Oslo’s Skøyen district. There, we meet four of the autumn interns from BI’s various master’s programmes: Farhad Ghanvatian, Sarah Johansson, Magnus H. Christensen and Martine Næss. They are all in their third semester of master’s studies, and five weeks into their internship when we sit down. Becoming an intern has been Sarah’s goal ever since she started at BI: