Throughout an organization’s recruiting lifecycle, recruiters go through a variety of hiring needs. Depending on the season and company needs, they may look for candidates to fill out short-term temporary roles to full-time permanent opportunities, with short-term roles, like internship opportunities, lasting anywhere from a few months to an entire season.
When it comes to short-term hiring needs, an internship program is a great way to fulfill company vacancies, while extending professional opportunities to early talent dipping their feet into the workforce. In fact, in recent years, internships have grown in popularity, with approximately 4.1 million internships forecasted for 2023.
Although a vast applicant pool is available for companies and senior management to capitalize on the best talent for internship positions, the race to attract and secure top talent is highly competitive. This is why it’s wise for companies to proactively strategize and prepare in advance to fill their intern positions. Here’s how to do it.
Step One: Determine the Basics for Your Internship Program
Identify intern needs: Determine which departments require extra assistance and how busy they will be. This will help with determining the final number of interns to hire and from which student programs.
Determine internship type: Do you want to offer a paid, unpaid, or course credit internship? Be careful here, because if you want to offer an unpaid internship, particular criteria need to be met from a legal perspective.
Create intern job descriptions: Take the time to write compelling job descriptions that will capture students’ interest and provide a deep understanding of the roles they're applying to.
Assign internal roles: Identify and train supervisors and evaluators responsible for interns.
Decide on pay and benefits for interns: Determine whether you will offer compensation and/or benefits and perks to interns.
Identify target schools: Select the campuses you will recruit from for your intern program. Although you may have core schools in place, recruiting outside of your core schools fuels a diverse talent pool. Work with the career centers on campus to ensure you follow proper protocols and timelines for intern recruitment.
Post intern roles: Submit intern postings to the target schools of your choice, and also post them on your website. Make sure you are clear regarding application deadlines and what students need to include, such as transcripts, cover letters, and resumes.
Step Two: Be Aware of Summer Intern Recruitment Timelines
Recruitment for internship programs typically aligns with the beginning of the academic school year. This is to allow organizations to secure the best-fit students for summer internships. Because internship recruiting is highly competitive, companies need to act quickly and not miss early recruitment cycles on campus, as it may result in missing out on exceptional students getting hired by competitors.
To do this, companies should:
Check with the colleges from which you hope to recruit for their specific guidelines and exceptions. Higher education institutions often have stipulations for students and recent graduates to be eligible for internship opportunities, like required coursework, declared areas of studies, technical skills, etc.
Notify students when you begin accepting applications. Students are eager to line up internship opportunities for the following year. Make sure to communicate with career centers on campus, or through your company website, to let them know when you’ll begin accepting applications and when you’re expecting to close the posting. Have your website ready and communications in place up to a month before the opening date to allow the school to share as much information with as many students as possible.
Keep summer internship application open for enough time. Most companies post their summer internship opportunities in the late fall or winter – some as early as October – and keep the application process open for at least 30 days, sometimes longer. Typically, summer positions are filled by May for a June start.
Make the most of recruitment tools. Tools like Symplicity Recruit make the intern job posting process quick and painless, as it enables recruiters to post a position to all their target schools in one simple step. You can easily access a curated network of more than 600 universities to extend your reach and make targeted connections.
Step Three: Consider an Internship Credit Program
Colleges around the country design credit-earning programs for students to gain course credit through real-world experience in place of classroom time. This type of internship recruitment can sometimes take a little longer depending on the requirements a school places on businesses, sometimes even taking months before an employer is considered for this type of program.
Make sure to contact the campus career development office at the school(s) you’re looking to recruit from so that you can determine if they offer internships for credit. If they do, they’ll advise what information they need from you to authorize your company for accreditation purposes. They will also outline a timeframe for posting openings and when to expect placement for the program.
As with other internships, be sure to prepare and consider the following:
A job description of the work being performed and a section for most common questions.
A work schedule of the days/hours qualified individuals will be required to work.
Assign an appropriate supervisor to communicate with on an ongoing basis and perform evaluations.
Be flexible in working around exam schedules and other course requirements.
Step Four: Interact with Potential Interns at Campus Recruitment Events
Engaging in campus recruitment events is an excellent way to generate excitement and buzz about your internship program and your business. Attending events like career fairs, meet and greets with management, and incorporating sessions with recent inter-to-employee conversions is a great way to make you stand out in students’ minds, build relationships, and make a positive impact for when they’re ready to apply to desired internships.
Pro-Tip: Check for availability to recruit interns on campus with any schools of interest and look into what other types of events these schools allow companies to host. Consider making classroom presentations or sponsoring a campus-wide event for the general public. Be sure to partner with career services on campus to coordinate all of your events to ensure you follow appropriate protocols and timelines.
Step Five: Don’t Lose Track of Internship Interview Timelines
Because internships typically start 6 months to a year after the candidates are interviewed, it’s important to stay informed about the timelines you are working with at each campus you’re recruiting from. Much like any other type of interview, internship interviews will sometimes require multiple rounds of conversations, with first and second rounds of interviews typically spaced a week apart. You will find that many schools will suggest guidelines for when offers can be made following the interview process. To be safe, plan to allow a minimum of 5 business days for students to respond to a verbal or written offer.
Step Six: Converting Interns Into Full-Time Entry-Level Employees
Internships are important, not only because they provide learning opportunities and a chance to gain experience for students outside the classroom, but also because they give hiring teams a chance to see how new hires will perform their work duties, how they fit in with the company culture, how they contribute to the various teams int he office, and what soft skills they bring to the mix before they join as potential full-time employees. This is one of the main reasons why taking the time to asses candidates for full-time employment suitable through internship positions has been proven to pay off for businesses.
While creating an internship program is an investment in time and resources, it also has the potential to pay off. With a little pre-planning and a commitment to providing real-life work opportunities for candidates, companies can reap the benefits of pre-screening potential full-time hires, while allowing students to gain valuable, hands-on experience they can add to their resumes. Moreover, internships allow employers to boost productivity, reduce costs in training time, and better support their managers throughout the recruiting process.
About Symplicity Recruit
Symplicity Recruit is the premier early talent recruiting platform used by over 600,000 employers. Key features include centralized management of job postings across a network of over 600 academic institutions, a filterable resume database, and the ability to directly message students. Contact us to learn more.