How to Attract Top Interns

The key to any successful business is developing and retaining top talent, but do you want top interns?  For any business, bringing in fresh eyes and creative personalities can spark life into an organization. One of the easiest ways to do this is through a strong internship program, allowing employers to increase staff and ideas but at a lower price and without long term commitments.  However, it’s not as easy as it may sound, creating a mutually beneficial program and acquiring top talent will take time and effort.

The Program

To receive the greatest benefit and value it is best to create a well-structured program that has clarity and effective communication channels before you make your first hire.  The first step is assigning a direct intern manager, this provides clarity and structure for both the interns and upper level managers.  This individual is responsible for ensuring the internship is mutually beneficial. Students do not want to run coffee and file papers all day and will only decrease the value of your program and make it more difficult to attract the top talent. The greatest source of learning comes from a mentor mentee relationship and working together in real world situations, this is what top talent want to be doing. Tasking interns with real world projects or putting them on a team of employees, providing intrinsic motivation as they can see the progress and value they bring to the organization.

In addition to assignments it is very important to be flexible with time.  Top talent are likely to be devoted students who are widely involved on and off campus. This may make a typical 9-5 internship commitment unrealistic.  Situations vary case by case but an applicants inability to commit to 30 “traditional” hours should not rule them out.  Lastly, provide them with a tangible portfolio of all their work.  Internship programs vary dramatically and the word “intern” on a resume can mean many different things in terms of value.  By having a portfolio of work and accomplishments, you enable the now entry-level worker to visibly express the value he can bring to an organization.  This will not only help your prior employee but help your programs reputation.  The success and professional growth of prior interns will motivate other aspiring students to work for you.

The People

You may have created the greatest internship program imaginable, but without the right people it means nothing.  Most important is the program manager, this should not be an entry level worker or simply extra paperwork for another employee.  Students want a knowledgeable professional who can relate to their challenges, but most importantly, someone who allows the interns to learn from what the manager has done and experienced.  With a strong leader in place we must now find the talent, ideally at your local universities.  You might think that going into an entry level class will achieve the task, but it will not.  A lower level required class will only have a few highly motivated individuals.  Look more into industry relevant clubs and organizations on campus, such as the business fraternity or public speaking club.  Students with self-motivation and drive join these clubs, it is these individuals you want representing your company both in the office and on campus.  When you find an applicant pool it is important to treat their interview and hire process as you would a full time employee.  Make sure to keep in mind, however, that their resumes may not be fully developed and the greater focus should on their work ethic, motivation, and character.  After you have established the program manager and hired your first intern, or team of interns,  it is important to develop a relationship with free flowing ideas but remember, this may be a student’s first glance at the professional world and you’re setting the precedent.

The Challenges

There are many challenges associated with interns that must be overcome, such as pay.  This may be the toughest consideration when deciding to bring interns onboard and the answer may vary.  If your organization is well known and a strong industry leader with a developed internship program then top talent may be willing to work for free. Otherwise, top talent will require a competitive wage.  Another challenge when hiring students with little to no experience is that the risk can be high.  They may miss shifts regularly, quit unexpectedly, or simply not fit in to the company, culture or industry. Internships are an exploratory exercise for students and their “real-life” experience may not be what either of you hoped. Additionally, for some complex industries with a steep learning curve, the semester could be over by the time an intern becomes proficient in the business processes of the organization.

Every organization will experience different challenges and each requires a unique response. Developing a great program and finding top talent will be challenging but your organization will see great benefits over time. Hiring interns can completely change an organization or an office dynamic.  Don’t be locked in the past, lead your organization confidently into the business world of tomorrow with the students of today.

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(About the Author: Kevin is a marketing and sales team member at DATIS, a leading provider of position control human resource (HR) and payroll software-as-a-service (SaaS) for behavioral health and human services agencies. Their best-in-class, cloud-based software is a complete solution, covering HRPosition ControlPayrollTimekeepingBenefits AdministrationRecruitingTalentCredential Management and Workforce Analytics. By leveraging a complete administrative services solution from a single service provider, their customers reduce expenses and risks, increase compliance and revenue, maximize the resources directly devoted to their missions and enjoy a superior customer service experience.)

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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.

What Do Interns Really Want? [Infographic]

Developing an extraordinary internship program can be a long and winding journey. You’ll face plenty of bumps in the road, and perhaps lots of trial and error. And as we’ve seen in the news recently, you may even discover some controversy.

But overall, internships can be very beneficial for organizations — not just because enthusiastic young workers are contributing to your business goals. Internship programs can also open the door to a more diverse workforce, help add fresh perspectives to your brand, attract other young talent to your organization, and more.

Of course, employers aren’t the only ones who benefit. Although the state of the internship has shifted over time, its overarching goal remains the same — students and recent grads should gain something educational from their work experience. So, what do today’s interns really want to accomplish, and what else should employers know about them?

The following infographic, based on student employment data from InternMatch, offers insights to help employers map out a more effective internship program. Here are some highlights:

•  38% of interns want better pay
•  30% want opportunities to perform meaningful work
•  47% are interested in access to executives and mentorship
•  California, New York, and Florida are three of the top states for finding college talent

Do any of these statistics surprise you? Check out the full infographic below, and share your thoughts in the comments area.

What are your thoughts? Have you experienced these trends — as an intern or as an employer?

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Internship Compensation: Does It Pay?

In light of the recent slew of compensation-based class action lawsuits, unpaid internships are a hot topic. And with only 36.9% of companies still offering interns less that minimum wage or no compensation at all, it’s clear that relying upon unpaid interns is more damaging than many employers assume.

How might that “free” extra set of hands leave you paying a price? Take a look at the following infographic, compiled by InternMatch, an online platform connecting the best intern candidates and employers. It showcases several key intern compensation facts, as well as implications for employers. For example:

• 48% of internships accepted by the Class of 2013 were unpaid
• 41% of paid interns weren’t paid enough to cover basic daily expenses
• 65% of students relied on financial assistance from parents during their internships
• 63% of paid interns subsequently received at least one job offer

Whether you’re an intern or an employer, there’s a message here for you. Check out the full infographic, and share your thoughts in the comments area below!

What do you think? Should unpaid interns fight back against employers to recover unpaid wages and overtime?

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Hiring Interns? Choose Wisely (Infographic)

“Good Enough” May Not Be So Good

If you’re looking to add value to your company, taking on an intern who’s only “good enough” just doesn’t cut it. Of course, every internship applicant isn’t going to knock your socks off with stellar skills, experience, and a fresh perspective. But what should you expect?

Let’s face it: Hiring interns can be a challenge. Although candidates may look good on paper, interviews often reveal a whole different story. Some students and recent graduates may stumble into your office lacking any knowledge or interest in your company. Others may offer attractive skills or experience, but want a hefty salary. And others may balk at an entry-level role that seems uninspiring.

What To Do?

Building a strong internship program starts with a long-term vision. It’s about finding talented young candidates who demonstrate potential to transform into full-time hires. What should you look for on you mission to find a rockstar? Consider the “best” and “worst” profiles in the following infographic from InternMatch, an online platform that specializes in connecting intern candidates and employers. It highlights some fascinating statistics about Millennials (aka Generation Y):

  • 89% say that constantly learning on the job is important
  • 40% think they’re smarter than their boss
  • 40% say they should be promoted every two years, regardless of performance
  • 50% prefer unemployment to working at a job they hate

What Have You Discovered In Hiring Interns?

Do you agree with these statistics? What traits matter most when you hire interns from today’s pool of young talent? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

InternMatch Infographic Best and Worst Intern Candidates

Candidate Experience: Internship Applicants Are People Too

Written by Kevin Wang

As college students are finally starting to understand the long-term value of internships and actively pursuing them, it has subsequently become more difficult for them to successfully secure one. For example, in 2009, advertising agency Mullen received almost 600 summer internship applications from all over the United States for only 24 slots in their Boston office. The rise in internship applicants has kept Recruiting and Human Resource departments busy, burdening them with a flood of cover letters and resumes to review.

There are many great articles scattered across blogs on the Internet, focusing on what proper etiquette for internship applicants should be. Students are reminded to always send thank-you notes, maintain a professional tone in the cover letter, and research companies before interviews, along with many other bits of valuable and timeless career advice.

However, I’ve rarely seen anyone discuss what proper candidate experience etiquette should be when handling and communicating with internship applicants from the workplace perspective. With record numbers of applicants and applications, it’s very easy for hiring departments to forget that each individual application was painstakingly filled out by an actual human being, and carries the hopes and dreams of that individual. It’s also carelessly easy to view individual applicants as one of many and disregard them. By doing so, businesses are permanently damaging their relationships with their biggest fans and alienating their most enthusiastic advocates. Prospective interns, while at the bottom of the hierarchy at any organization, still deserve to be treated fairly.

Here’s how leaders can improve their workplace culture branding experience and better handle the internship applicant communication:

  • Be clear up front about the details of the program. That includes properly communicating the expected hours, responsibilities, pay, and other elements. If students aren’t eligible, straight up tell them! Email the applicants if any significant changes occur to the program.
  • Send a decision, regardless of whether it’s positive or not. It may sting for them to be told that they didn’t make it, but they’ll respect you for it.
  • Complete the review process in a timely manner. Students don’t have all the time in the world to finalize their plans for the upcoming semester or summer. Let them know as early as possible so they can assess their options well before crunch time.
  • Leave the door open. Don’t kick your rejected applicants to the curb. Let them know that they’re just unfortunately part of of an extremely competitive pool, and encourage them to apply again in the future.
  • Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Stress to all your employees that internal referrals for an applicant does NOT guarantee them a position. Also, don’t mislead applicants or hint at anything with correspondence. It’s better to be tight-lipped about the whole affair until you’re ready to make announcements.

Finally, the Golden Rule: treat others the way you would want to be treated.

We may be interns, and maybe that’s not much, but remember, we’re people too.


5 Ways to Tell if Your Internship is Legal, Regardless of Pay

Just because your internship is paid, doesn’t make it a good program. And, just because your internship is unpaid doesn’t make it an illegal, brand-damaging blight on the company.

Instead, when evaluating an internship opportunity, take pay out of the equation (I’m serious!) and investigate the presence of these five factors:

Mentorship: If you are the “public relations intern,” for example, you’d better be supervised by someone who actually knows about public relations. In addition, this person should devote the time to being your sounding board — and be genuinely interested in your future enough to answer all of your questions, or put you in touch with someone who can.

Learning: You should be learning something new every day – and completing real projects. I always recommend interns keep an informal journal of their experiences – mostly so you don’t forget what you’ve accomplished to add to your résumé later. Set up a meeting with your supervisor once or twice a month to go over your journal to make sure you’re both still on the same page.

Another way to ensure learning throughout your internship is to set goals at the very beginning against which you can measure at the end. You might want to ask about this during the interview process.

Networking: Especially if the organization can’t offer you a job at the end of your internship, it’s important to provide you with access to people who might. Along similar lines, make sure you have at least one sit-down with senior leaders within the organization sometime before your internship ends.

Work Samples: This depends on the field and confidentiality rules of the company, but if you can swing it, make sure you walk away with not only accomplishment stories, but also physical proof of what you’ve done while interning for the organization.

Recognition: Throughout the internship, outstanding interns should be recognized for their hard work. If you came up with a great idea – particularly if the organization goes on to use the idea – other people in the company should know about it! And, at the end of the internship, ask your supervisor if s/he would be willing to serve as a reference. In fact, during the interview process, ask about the company’s overall reference policy — and your supervisor’s personal policy.

Although I laid out the specifics for a few the above, every single point can be asked about during the interview process — before you start your internship. It’s important you to enter every internship with your eyes wide open to what you’ll be experiencing, regardless of pay.

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