Most U.S. companies want to hire ambitious, motivated young talent to sustain growth and tap into the latest insights from the youth of the nation. Generation Z is attractive to employers for many reasons: According to the Pew Research Center, young adults born after 1996 comprise the most diverse, most educated, and most digital native generation in history. Generation Z is poised to bring fresh perspectives and innovations to corporate America as they climb the ladder of success.
For centuries, employers have been helping young people find and apply for jobs, network with professionals, and gain experience through activities like apprenticeships, training programs, and internships.
In recent years, through the development of remote collaboration technologies, employers have created online versions of these activities to reach more young adults who are just starting to explore their career options.
Today, students can take advantage of an entire business category of career enablement that consists of simulated work courses and real-world work experiences from top brands.
Paragon One and Forage take two distinct approaches to the student career enablement category, providing employers two different ways to attract talented workers from Generation Z:
Well-known employers collaborate with both organizations. Forage boasts courses from lululemon, Walmart, Red Bull, and Bank of America, while Paragon One connects students with project-based assignments from real-world companies like Meta, Hugo Boss, PwC, and other marquee brands.
Which option is best for your Gen Z talent efforts? Let’s dive into the details and see how Forage and Paragon One stack up against each other.
With Paragon One, employers can quickly onboard teams of motivated externs to do work with different departments, such as marketing, sales, finance, human resources, and communications.
Externs collaborate with members of their cohort to complete real work projects over the course of one to two months. Each cohort is supervised by a mentor from the employer and educators from Paragon One.
This structure has several immediate advantages for employers. For one thing, it boosts diversity and inclusion initiatives by attracting students from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, socioeconomic status, and gender orientations. And second, through project-based assignments, employers receive valuable work products such as buyer’s journeys, competitive analyses, product viability reports, technology use case explorations, and more—all from the perspective of a desired target audience.
In the longer term, companies benefit by identifying talented externs, determining a good cultural fit, and offering jobs to the best candidates. Within 12 months of completing an externship, two-thirds of externs land jobs with a Fortune 1000 company. Even students who don’t get jobs at the companies they extern for have good feelings about the experience, because they can use their externship as an attractive resume builder that helps them get a job somewhere else.
Because volunteer corporate mentors build a direct relationship with each extern, they can get to know their strengths and weaknesses, offer advice, and talk to hiring managers about the most promising students. In turn, hiring managers can use the externship experience as a starting point for productive job interviews. According to Paragon One’s internal research, 95% of the Fortune 1000 executives who participate in externships found potential hires among the students they worked with.
Paragon One externships come with a full-time support team that helps employers every step of the way. Support helps your teams create meaningful assignments, reduces the burden on mentors, and gives employers access to top Gen Z talent.
Forage’s courses are short (3–6 hours) simulated work experiences for individual students. Unlike a Paragon One externship, students who take simulated career courses don’t work on real projects, collaborate with peers, or enjoy any networking opportunities with company employees.
The primary advantage of work simulation courses from Forage is the scalability they provide. Companies make a one-time investment in creating a course, and have the potential to expose a large number of students to their brands. Students also appreciate the fact that they can immerse themselves in multiple brands by taking as many short courses as they’re interested in.
The downside is that companies don’t build a rapport or relationships with participating students. While they can track the students who take each course, see how they performed, and contact them for a job interview, the employer gains little knowledge of how the students work in team situations or on deadlines.
Forage work simulation courses and Paragon One externships can both be useful tools for companies trying to attract top talent from Generation Z.
If your goal is simply creating awareness among college-age students and providing information about the way your company works, then Forage work simulation courses could be a great option. On the other hand, if you want to get to know students, provide them with a rich, real-world work experience, and find great people to hire, Paragon One externships would be the way to go.
Paragon One externships provide a great value for employers that want a cost-effective, low-lift way of attracting talented students. In return for a minimal time commitment from your volunteer corporate mentors, you’ll receive valuable work products, enhance your diversity and inclusion initiatives, and get a first-hand look at how students think, collaborate, write and verbally present their ideas, and get real work done.
Paragon One externships offer many of the benefits of traditional internships, without the cost or extensive time commitment. On average, company mentors spend about one or two hours a week working with their cohorts, and most find building real relationships with motivated students both professionally and personally rewarding.
Contact Paragon One today and learn more about how real-world externships can give you access to the young employees who will shape the future of your company.