Saturday, March 8, 2014

Five Steps to Hiring a Great Summer Intern

How to hire the perfect intern

I am a Professor of Marketing at +Aurora University  teaching in our Digital Marketing Minor and all of our Marketing students must have an internship to graduate.  I get a lot of requests from people in industry looking to hire interns this time of year.  Of course, we want to match our students to a great internship and the companies want to have a good experience too. Therefore, I am offering these simple tips for hiring a great summer intern.

summer interns

Steps to Success

1)  Start early.  Unlike Grammar and High School, most University terms end in late April, early May.  I receive many requests in June for someone to hire 'for the summer,' by which time most of our students are gone and have summer employment.  The most sought-after students looking for summer internships will be gone by Spring Break, which is typically sometime in March.  For a Fall Internship, start looking now.  For January or Summer, start in the Fall.

2) Understand the academic schedule.  Make sure you understand the academic schedule at the Universities you are interested in hiring from and, again, get started early enough.  For internships for academic credit, students will want something for the Fall, Spring or Summer.  Most students won't want to start a new job toward the end of the semester if you want them to start in March and the paperwork won't be able to get done properly.    Think of start times as starting in August/September, January or May/June. You may have to adjust your expectations of start date to find the best intern, even though you may have a pressing project.

3) Be clear in your description/objectives.   Spend time on your job description and objectives of the position.  Don't just send an email saying "I want to hire an intern; can you send some over?"  Most students want to know what skills are required to perform the job and what skills will be develped, what the hours are, rate of pay, location, if there is any flexibility for telecommuting, etc.

4) Don't rely on professors to be job screeners for you. Professors are teaching classes and are close to the students but they don't know your company and what might be the best fit.  Professors won't also know EVERY student at the University, just those in their classes.

At most places, Equal Opportunity extends to recruiting and internships and jobs must be posted to all students.  At Aurora University, we have a listserv that reaches 200 plus graduates and current students.  Like most Universities, we also have a careers job site where internships and full-time jobs can be listed. Students apply online and all students at the University have access.

5) Pay your interns.  While it is true your job might provide a 'great experience' for someone, there are other companies willing to pay their interns.  These firms recognize that the intern is providing a valuable experience.  Most students today face high costs of education and rely on their work outside of the classroom to get them through the University experience.  Many students will have several offers and will most likely gravitate toward paid experiences.

If you follow this simple advice I am sure you will find the 'perfect' intern for your firm!  Good luck and thanks for providing this valuable experience to our students.

By Debra Zahay-Blatz.
You can find Debra on  and Twitter as well as LinkedIn.
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