No Money? No Problem! Recruiting Awesome Interns On A Budget!

If you want to stand out as an internship employer of choice these days, you may have to think of new and innovative ways to find those star interns. Some organizations now turn to contests, conduct VIP happy hours, and even ask even candidates to play video games to recruit young top talent.

But there’s one major flaw in all of these strategies: You may run up a tab you can’t handle, leaving your already dwindling hiring budget in the pits.

I’m not saying cool and innovative recruiting techniques aren’t necessary. After all, there’s an average of 250 resumes per job opening. But some hiring techniques aren’t justifiable when you’re already strapped for cash, particularly if you haven’t put as much emphasis on internship hiring in the past.

While you may not be able to blow cash on intern recruitment efforts, you still need a strong internship program. After all, the intern you hire today has a 60 percent chance at being the rockstar of tomorrow.

When you want to find those great interns, but don’t have tons of money in your recruitment piggybank, check out these these options:

Use niche posting sites

There are tons of niche job posting sites out there — many catered to interns — which are free to use. These sites can typically reach a lot of students and are easy to use. Some even have club and university partnerships, which can increase your reach. All of these can drive qualified candidates to you at little to no cost.

Try this: Include company culture details, a description of the ideal candidate, and compensation information. Presenting this from the get-go can bring you better internship candidates and avoid any communication issues.

Take advantage of your network

Your network can be a bevy of wealth in your quest to find the perfect intern. This includes your current employees, clients, friends, previous professors, and campus recruitment professionals. Not only do they know what you’re looking for, you can trust they won’t point you to any duds. After all, their reputation is important to them. A good referral makes them look good — while giving you great internship employees at virtually no cost.

Try this: Make the process as easy as possible — remember, they aren’t getting paid or receiving a reward for this. Give members of your network all the information they need, including the job description and information regarding the application process.

Hold a virtual meetup

Don’t have the luxury of attending career fairs or conferences to source up-and-coming hires? A great (and free) alternative are virtual meetups, like Google Hangouts. These meetups allow you to share information with potential intern candidates in a video-chat format. Intern candidates can ask questions about the company or position, while you get to spread the word about your program at a low-cost. Plus, students and young professionals from all over the country can attend the meetup, giving your program a larger reach than a regional career fair.

Try this: Remember to record your meetup, particularly if it contains content that can be used again in the future. That way, internship candidates who couldn’t attend can view the video in their own time.

Partner with universities

No matter if you’re a small startup or a Fortune 1000 company, partnering with a university can be the key to advocating your program. Partnerships will definitely vary, but many include participating at career events, speaking at club meetings, or hosting workshops. This gives your internship program a voice and promotes it to a large body of students.

Try this: To avoid any partnership costs, suggest some perks from your end, such as a student mentorship program or tours of your company for clubs and student organizations. This can provide value to a university since they’re gaining a benefit at no cost.

No money in your recruitment budget is no problem when you use these tips to source great interns.

What do you think? What are some other ways to recruit awesome interns on a budget?

Nathan Parcells


Nathan Parcells is co-founder and CMO of InternMatch, an online platform connecting the best intern candidates and employers. Connect with Nathan and InternMatch on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.