This is the latest in the Intern Series that we've been running this summer. In this installment, we hear from an intern, Zoe Schiffer at one of our favorite companies, InternMatch.

Before you begin recruiting topnotch interns it is important to determine what you want out of them. Great work? Or great coffee? A possible full-time employee down the road? Or someone to sort mail and run errands for free? Internship programs are most successful when they start out with a clear set of goals. In 6 Steps to Hire an Intern/Co-Op Student, the Walton College of Business ranked planning and design right above compensation as the first things employers must take into account when creating an internship program.

 

When you’re ready to start hiring, the next thing to consider is how to write a good job description. You’ll want to focus on selling the company and position, while still standing out from companies with similar listings. Ask yourself “What makes my company different?” and “What do I love about working here?”, then write a post that highlights these points.

 

According to Erica Dhawan in a Forbes article, “Gen-Y’s don’t mind putting in long hours so long as we can choose those hours.” 55% of interns state that working just one day a week from a coffee shop would dramatically increase their likelihood to apply. Think about what you’d be willing to accept as far as using social media on the clock and working remotely, then highlight these aspects in the job description.

 

Furthermore, only 3.8% of students found career fairs to be the most helpful resource in their latest internship search according to InternMatch's 2013 State of the Internship report, and 59.3% are open to a virtual internship. Recruiting trends are changing and virtual interviews are quickly becoming an accepted if not expected part of the hiring process.

 

In Hiring Interns: Do’s and Don’ts, Mashable.com put, “No University or College Connection” as their number one “don’t” on the list. “No one knows the most talented candidates better than higher-learning institutions,” they wrote. Creating connections with universities is important to attracting top talent. What was their first “do”? You guessed it, video interviews. Aside from accessing talent that would otherwise be geographically out of reach, video interviews open your company up to more diversity.

 

Google and Facebook pay their interns $6,000+ per month. South West Airlines has Intern Happy Hour and free flights, according to Hercampus.com. With perks like these it’s no wonder Mashable.com also cites “Relying on Traditional Hiring Practices” as a definite “don’t” for small businesses. 37.7% of large businesses start recruiting interns a year in advance. Small businesses can use their size to their advantage by making decisions quickly, and offering desired candidates the job in as little as 24 hours after interviewing.

 

Lastly, it is important that your internship program stay legal. This basically rules out the coffee-grabbing, mail-sorting, work-for-free intern of decades past. Today, legal regulations prohibit unpaid interns either taking the place of regular employees, or performing tasks that are immediately to the advantage of the company. All in all there are 6 criteria that unpaid internships must follow in order to be deemed federally legal. InternMatch's thoughts are to just pay your interns.

 

Interns are the driving force of change in most businesses. While not all companies can attract interns based on financial incentives alone, 58.9% of students rank educational opportunities and portfolio building as being more important aspects of their internship experiences anyhow. Adapting to new recruiting practices like virtual interviews and highlighting company culture in your job descriptions, are two good ways to attract top talent without forking over half your profit in financial compensation. Students are eager to learn and find employment; it is just a matter of recruiting the right people for the right roles, and constructing an intern-friendly program to maximize their potential.

 

photo credit: Joi via photopin cc

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