For companies, entrepreneurs and small businesses, interns can be a huge asset. Additionally, providing internship opportunities can offer work experience to potential employees and individuals. I currently manage over 120 interns with the help of an intern manager. It was a long process to figure out how to attract wonderful intern applicants, vet them and make sure both you and your intern are feeling fulfilled with the work they are doing.
Here are my tips to find great interns and set them up in an intern program:
1) Pick one place to funnel all of your intern applicants. We use this page as our funnel:
We have links to this page from other career websites, other parts of the blog and partner sites, but they all come to this one page. On your funnel page give a very brief explanation of the programs and then let them click through to their desired track—whether you will offer more than one internship or if you want to have different pages for FAQ, Applications and About Us. This way the page isn’t too long and serves as a landing page for potential intern applicants.
2) I like to put a video on my pages. Even if you have a virtual internship, it helps people feel that you are real and will treat them well. Since most internships are unpaid, it is all relationship based. Videos can help convey this.
3) Be specific on what they will do for you. You can see how we described one of our internships here: http://www.radicalparenting.com/radical-teens/teen-writers/ Especially if it is unpaid, you want to give applicants an idea of what the work is, how long it will take and when they have to complete it. This will also help weed out people who will not work for you later.
4) Have lenient but poignant qualifications. Since internships are usually unpaid it is important that you are open to all kinds of people to get a variety of applicants, but if there are skills you need, ask for them! You do not want to spend more time and energy training an intern on something when you could have found someone who already had the skills (like being able to use powerpoint, website editing or social media fluency).
5) Make three hoops. Interns have to usually really want the placement to do the work. I have interns go through three ‘hoops’ to make sure they are really dedicated and can do follow through. Here are my ‘hoops:’
-Email application meets the application qualifications (List name, number, address, sample writing and resume—if they forget one of these things I think that is a bad sign).
-Read and review a non-disclosure basic contract, sign and scan or mail back.
-Fill out a small bio in a welcome package and answer a few questions on their goals for working with my company.
6) List your mission and make it exciting. Interns usually have hard work, you want them to feel some perks. This can be learning or a charitable goal. List this to entice passionate people.
Overall, hiring and managing interns can be a long process. As you get more applicants you can begin to weed out serious and not serious. Stay tuned for our post on how to create an internship program and manage great interns!