Tempting though it may be, you can\u2019t put off hiring young people forever. As IT budgets expand, the pressure on you to innovate increases while your current workforce ages and retires. Eventually, adding some energy, enthusiasm and newer skills from the entry-level talent pool will be critical to your business.\n \n By bringing in younger workers now\u2014as interns, for example\u2014you\u2019ll have more, better-equipped talent when you need it most.\n \n \u201cThere are so many things happening in the field that the old guard doesn\u2019t want to deal with,\u201d observes Eric Hungate, CIO of the Texas Board of Schools. Hungate has used his leadership in groups like the Association of IT Professionals to build student chapters at the high school and college levels as a means of developing IT\u2019s future ranks. \u201cStudents have the wherewithal, savvy and need\u2014because they need jobs\u2014to embrace\u201d new skills and emerging technologies, he says.\n \n Hungate adds that strategies to hire recent college grads are a tough sell to CEOs. \u201cThere\u2019s a mentoring piece, slicing out different tasks and setting performance milestones, that is pretty time-consuming.\u201d\n \n Most CEOs want employees who can contribute right away. But according to Barbara Ray, co-author of Not Quite Adults, it\u2019s not fair to expect that from today\u2019s college grads. They\u2019re not slackers; Ray\u2019s book draws on a decade of research on 20-somethings that suggests that only the hardest working, most driven students from the class of 2011 are sending you their resumes. But helicopter parenting and an emphasis on education over work experience means today\u2019s grads may not know workplace conventions, such as how to dress or how to behave when on a deadline.\n \n On the flip side, these hires are good at following orders and tend to thrive when given a clear sense of what it takes to advance.\n Invest in InternsTom Flanagan, former CIO of Amgen, knows the investment in young workers pays off. Amgen created a strategy to change the age distribution in IT, hiring roughly 20 college students a year. \u201cWe retained almost 90 percent of those kids over the last five to six years, and they now make up about one-sixth of the IT organization,\u201d says Flanagan.\n \n \n \n Amgen\u2019s program works and is affordable because it gets both the college students and team members who are alumni of area schools involved.\n \n \u201cWe took senior people at Amgen that graduated from UCLA and got them to volunteer as liaisons\u2014they became the recruiters,\u201d Flanagan says.\n \n Since students start as interns, Amgen can judge whether they\u2019ll be good hires. Flanagan stresses interns should get real work. \u201cWe tried to make them feel important right away and give them good assignments.\u201d\n \n He says the interns have even pushed more senior people to improve themselves. \u201cIt\u2019s had an enormously positive effect across the organization.\u201d\n \n Meanwhile, Amgen also communicates with the heads of various programs at each school about how well its students are prepared for the workplace. That\u2019s important, says Hungate, because university curricula often trend two or three years behind business in the technology they use and skills they teach. Including the schools in your efforts will yield results.\n \n I\u2019d like to know how you\u2019re integrating entry-level staff, along with other leadership and management issues you\u2019re facing. In future columns, I\u2019ll explore answers to such questions as how to deepen your leadership bench and how to delegate better. Let me hear from you about the challenges you\u2019re up against.