Best practices for running a successful sponsorship program
November 14, 2022
Running a successful student sponsorship program is no easy task. For schools fresh to the arena and just trying to get started, it can be a bit overwhelming and confusing. The best way to begin is by knowing what to prepare for, of course having a plan in place will help you avoid making mistakes and ensure your sponsorship program will run smoothly. Planning for things like interviews, paperwork, and the flow of information will help ensure that your school has the resources it needs. Let’s get started!
Host a thoughtful interview with the student
A suggested first step to running a successful sponsorship program is to conduct an interview with the student. While time-consuming, hosting an interview is a great litmus test to see how the candidate will do with a potential employer. Will they show up on time? Can they follow directions? How do they present themselves? Can all be answered by you taking the first step of interviewing the candidate.
What’s unique about this interview though is that both parties need to feel comfortable with the situation. It’s important that you provide a solid foundation for the candidate as they’re going to be expected to work at a local employer that you’ll help them get connected to. Here are some suggested questions to ask:
Why are you interested in becoming a CNA?
What are your long-term goals?
Why is now the right time for you to start on a new career journey?
What previous caregiving experience do you have and in what setting?
What do you currently know about the sponsorship program here?
What are you looking for in terms of your next job, what’s important to you?
What are you expecting in terms of compensation and benefits?
At the end of the interview, it’s important that the candidate walks away understanding the logistics of the sponsorship and the commitment they are about to make. You want to make sure that they understand the commitment they are making to your course but also long-term to the prospective employer they’ll soon work for – by level setting with them about expectations you can save multiple people headaches down the road.
Set the employer up for success
While you can’t control what the employer does, you can strongly suggest to them the importance of running a structured interview with a clear agenda. The first hurdle for your school is going to be to set expectations well with employers that they need to respond to candidates interested in sponsorship swiftly. Otherwise, that student may wind up choosing a different school or different opportunity.
In terms of logistics, communicating back and forth with both the employer and the student about their availability for interviews can be time-consuming, using tools such as Calendly where you can personally schedule an interview for the student can be helpful if the employer is open to sharing an interview link.
When it comes to the employer’s interview, the employer should also clearly outline what they are expecting from a candidate whose training is sponsored, the exact terms of their offer, and how they will define success. This will help them determine if the potential candidate is right for the job.
Lastly, if you can line up having the student’s information readily at hand (resume, documents for employment, preliminary background check, etc.) prior to the interview this will create a great experience for all parties. That way you can potentially save everyone time by not sharing a candidate who won’t fully qualify. As a quick note, Dreambound has a great tool where our employers can view the student's information as well as their answers to important questions through a one-way video interview. You can see a sample picture below
Gather as much of the details as you can on the potential offer from the employer in advance
Should an employer want to extend an offer it’s important that the information is well understood by the candidate. Surprises are the enemy for everyone in a sponsored training program and it’s only fair to the student that they understand on the upfront what they are committing to. Nobody wants someone to back out at the last minute. Here are some things that should be ideally written out for the candidate:
Exact location (especially if recruited by a larger network) or territory if home health
Intended shift, targeted start date and end date of the contract,
their title (pre and post-licensure), starting pay rate, any pay differentials, and if training will be paid
total drive time to potential facilities, etc.
Legitimate paperwork and clear expectations, no ambiguity
In order to run a successful sponsorship program, you must make sure that the paperwork is clear and unambiguous. It should include the roles and responsibilities of the student and what are the consequences if they will not be able to fulfill them.
Provide progress reports and updates to the employer on the candidate
Ensure that you are communicating regularly with your sponsor about their candidate's progress. This can be done by phone or email, depending on your preference and how often you communicate with them.
Having a tool where they can easily see the cohort date of the student is highly encouraged. It could be through a Google Spreadsheet where you can share access with them or a tool of your own.
Ensure that you and the employer reiterate expectations
Especially given there are so many opportunities for employment as a CNA it’s important that you are continuously reinforcing the expectations of the contract. Continue to reiterate the importance of fulfilling the commitment and make sure candidates don’t get distracted.
Additionally, be very clear about expectations all the way through: What are they expecting to get out of the program and what are the steps you’d need to take to make sure that happens? For example, who is going to pay for the state exam - the candidate or the employer? What about a re-take if they don’t pass on the first try? Leave no detail to chance along the journey and continuously reinforce expectations at key moments during the journey - especially upon graduation.
Structure something to look forward to post the length of the contract
Suggest to the employer that the best way for them to retain their talent is to continue to invest in them. Sponsorship programs that give someone something to look forward to at the end of the contract term yield better success rates than programs without it. A pay raise, bonus, title promotion, shift flexibility, opportunities to switch locations (if in a larger network), and additional training opportunities (more common in hospitals) are common techniques that employers use to retain staff at the end of the sponsored term. Encourage the employers to have a plan of action here and that it should be communicated on the upfront to the candidate. This will give them something to look forward to!
Starting with some of these best practices for schools in running a successful sponsorship program will help to ensure a quality experience for both your students and employers. If you’re looking for more information on how to set up a successful program, Dreambound can help. You can explore more about our sponsorship program by visiting our resources for schools here.
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