You’ve posted your add and now you are anxiously waiting for the resumes to roll in. Problem is, you can’t seem to find a qualifed intern. The resumes you have receieved don’t line up with the position description or, you aren’t getting any resumes at all.
What’s the deal? You are trying to give a young person an opportunity to learn your business and gain some real experience, but can’t seem to find the right person for the job.
Well, it is possible that you are the problem.
Often employers embark on the journey to find an intern without a firm understanding of what they really need in an intern, where to find internship candidates and what attracts good internship candidates. You might be guilty of one or all of these things. Take a step back and evaluate a few things about your internship opening and see how your program measures up in your quest to find a qualified intern.
Don’t be cheap, pay your interns
Nobody wants to work for free. Maybe 20 years ago unpaid internships were popular, but 20 years ago college didn’t cost on average almost $30,000 a year for an in-state public college. The average private school costs about $50,000 per year (source). With those types of bills looming and many college students needing to contribute heavily to pay for college, working for free just isn’t always feasible. If your internship doesn’t pay, you might miss out on quality candidates based on the fact that they can’t afford to work for you.
Unpaid programs can be biased towards those that can afford to work for free. Your talent and applicant pool will automatically decrease. If you want to compete for the best talent, then you need to find a way to pay your interns.
In addition to limiting your internship pool, unpaid internships are also potentially against the law. There are certain criteria you must meet as an employer in order to offer an unpaid internship.
You need an employee not an intern
Internships for undergraduate students that require two years of professional work experience are just insane and unfair. Internships are about gaining experience, about learning, about teaching. To want an intern with professional level credentials is just not reasonable, especially if you are not paying. Yes, you need your intern to have some skills and ability to contribute, but measure your needs and wants versus the reality of what an intern can bring.
If your internships is designed specficially for a recent graduate or graduate student, be specific with what you are looking for. Don’t be surprised, however, if candidates with stronger credentials are looking for some type of compensation.
Searching for Qualified Interns
Where you looking for interns? Have you posted to indeed.com and the other major job boards. That’s a good start, but when searching for interns go to where the interns are. There are websites and job boards for companies specifically looking for interns. Internship job boards like wayup.com, youtern.com and internships.com provide more exposure to your target audience. LinkedIn is also a no brianer which gives you the chance to review the background of your candidates. If you have your own website, make sure you post it there as well.
Social media sites including Instagram, SnapChat, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook can’t be ignored when looking for college students. Go where your market is.
Locally, check with the colleges and universities in your own backyard. Start with career services offices and then go to the appropraite academic departments.
Lastly, partner with an organization that seeks out talent for you. If you have the budget to participate, internship programs like the T. Howard Foundation, Year Up, and other internship recruitement organizations can provide you with resumes of pre-screened qualified candidates to fill your openings.
Write the right description
Does your internship job descprition make you want to work there? If the opportunity you are offering doesn’t sound interesting to you, then it may not be appealing to anyone else either. Making copies and getting coffee is not the “real world” experience students are looking for. In addition to the qualifications for the role, your ad needs to communicate what the intern will learn, the benefits, responsibilities and skills they will gain.
Looking for the right fit, the right intern, starts with understanding your internship program. Here are 10 Steps to Launching a Successful Internship Program so that you can use to evaluate and understand your program and in turn, attract the right candidate.
Interns can be a wonderful addition to your team. Don’t give up the search, just make sure you are searching the right way.