With summer quickly approaching, university students and recent grads will be on the hunt for resume- and career-building internships to fill their time between semesters or before grad school. For you, that means a fierce competition is afoot to snag the most valuable players—and it also means you’re about to find out just how fresh your internship recruiting strategy really is. (Hint: It might be time for an upgrade!)
How do I recruit an intern?
Admitting you need help is step one, but don’t worry—intern recruitment doesn’t have to be rocket science. It can be as easy as asking yourself a few key questions about your internship recruiting strategy. And by the way, you will have to bring your A game; gone are the years when interns would work for free with no compensation. Students and interns know their worth, and they will challenge you on what you’re offering them. When it comes to recruiting interns, assess these components of your strategy:
1. Are you offering a stipend or hourly pay?
Students cannot work for free. We repeat: Students cannot work for free. If your business’s HQ is in New York City, Chicago, Paris, London, or some other major (and expensive) city, it would be unrealistic to expect your interns to give you 40 hours of work a week in exchange for absolutely no monetary compensation. If your current strategy involves touting your internship experiences as just that—experience—remember that you’re probably missing out on some extremely valuable candidates. By expecting your interns to foot 100% of the cost of an internship, especially if that internship is overseas, you’ll be driving many applicants away.
Perhaps your business can’t afford a full salary and benefits for interns, especially if you plan to hire many. It’s true that experience is invaluable, especially in industries where it’s difficult to get a foot in the door, and for many recent grads and students the promise of a leg up is enough. However, in a time of massive student loan debt and high costs of living, our best advice on how to get interns for your business remains thus—pay them.
2. Are you offering to cover flight and visa costs?
Acquiring an international internship is a goal for many students. Not only do these internships offer the opportunity to go abroad and learn a new language and immerse in a new culture, they also provide unrivaled experience in students’ chosen fields. However, a roadblock that pops up time and again in pursuit of these experiences is expensive flights and visas. The average student doesn’t have $1200 to throw around for a roundtrip flight from New York to Beijing, not to mention the additional costs incurred by visa applications.
If a majority of your interns are required to travel overseas, it’s a great idea to offer to cover flight and visa costs. If students and recent grads have to pay out of pocket to intern with your business, they’ll most likely want to take their time and energy to a company that appreciates them.
3. What is your social media presence like?
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Millennials and Gen Zers love social media. Considering the amount of time they spend on websites and apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, it will be vital to your internship recruiting strategy to pay attention to your presence there. There’s no doubt that you should be using social media as a primary source of marketing for intern recruitment.
If you make sure you keep your profiles fresh, informative, and personal, recruiting interns will be easy. Millennials and Gen Zers love beautifully-curated content, and hate being treated like faceless numbers. Make sure you’re posting content they want to see based on your own buyer personas, and always engage with your followers. If potential interns see your company has a modernized game plan for social media strategy, they’ll be much more interested in learning more about you.
4. Are you responsive?
Potential interns are going to have a lot of questions for you, at all hours of the day, especially if your pool of candidates largely resides in a different timezone or country. What is your strategy like for responding to these questions? Do you provide applicants with advisors who can be contacted when needed? Do you promptly reply to Facebook messages and emails? Making your applicants feel important and seen is a crucial step in recruiting interns.
Ignoring inquiries and failing to respond to urgent needs will show applicants your company is unprofessional and disorganized—which is an environment that no one wants to work in. If you don’t have advisors recruits can go to with questions, make sure you have someone (or multiple people) monitoring all mediums of digital communication, and that these employees know how to direct applicants to the answers they’re looking for.
5. Is the experience valuable?
Last, but certainly not least, you need to ask yourself this pivotal question: Is the experience you’re offering to interns actually valuable? If interns at your business are there just to go on coffee runs and take notes in meetings, you will quickly gain a bad reputation amongst future applicants. If you want to improve intern recruitment, make sure you’re offering something that they actually want.
Will they leave the internship with inside knowledge on the industry? Will there be networking opportunities? Will they be able to test their skills and learn something new? Is there a possibility of being hired on full-time? Students and recent grads don’t want to waste their time, so providing a valuable experience they can’t get anywhere else is key in finding out how to get interns.
Ready to improve your internship recruiting strategy?
Learning how to hire an intern doesn’t have to be complicated. If you ask yourself a few essential questions, analyze your recruitment strategy, and then adjust accordingly, you’ll be recruiting interns who are high-quality (and who actually want to work for you) in no time!