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.

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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