Welcome Back! Where's our Intern?

By now, your holiday slowdown should be over. It’s been replaced with a mountain of email that needs to be reviewed; calendar invites that need to be accepted or declined, and the feeling of “Holy Smokes I got to get back up to speed quickly aka why did I take 2 weeks off?”

This is also your last chance to get a summer intern.
OK, today’s not really your last chance, but I wouldn’t wait until the end of the month to get started. You’ve got to the end of this week, no joke, I’m dead serious.

Now before you cry out with the all too familiar wail of “But, but, but, how? I can’t even possibly begin to think about an intern now!” let me share with you some realities. Most schools here in the southeast are starting the spring semester today (Jan 6th) and that semester will end in April.  Career fairs for the spring are possibly scheduled for end of January or early February.

That means tables are being booked, plans are being made, students are getting antsy, and career services professionals are becoming very busy.

It also means you can’t call up a career office and demand to see the best of the best without someone shaking their head on the other end of the line. See those students already lined up their internships, so now you’ve got to deal with the top 10% of the class as opposed to the top 2%.

Yeah, I know, this is not the news you wanted to hear today.

The good news, there’s hope (and it’s not March…yet).  The bad news, you’ve got a short time frame to get this executed and completed.

So here’s the list of things you need to get done in order to get that summer intern:

  1. Budget: Quickly determine if you’ve got the $$ to have an intern. Remember this is not a FT/1.0 EE opportunity. This is 20 to 30 hrs a week for a period of 10-12 hrs a week.
  2. People: Who can provide a meaningful experience to an intern? Who requested one but didn’t get one last year and now (by a Festivus miracle) they’ve got budget for an intern?
  3. Job Description:  After the budget, this is probably the most important thing to do. Please do not write a crappy JD. By that I mean don’t openly cut & paste from Monster/CB/LinkedIn and slap it together. Show some thought and class here… this will pay dividends. You can’t have a great employment brand and awesome employment marketing and have a crappy intern job description.
  4. Space: Do you have or will you have some place/infrastructure for the intern?  Good. Check that off the list.
  5. Schools: Call the career office this week. Get the calendar, see if it’s possible to go to the career fair and if not, then what else can you do? Here’s the best kept secret in career services, if you have a decent internship, with a great JD and you do on-campus interviews, you’ll get decent candidates.  Work with the teams at the schools, be nice to them, and you’ll get taken care of nicely.

That’s it. That’s the best you can do right now.

If you want to truly raise the bar, start planning for fall 2014 in the upcoming months. Find a way to budget for a fall intern and do some recruiting over the summer and you’ve just started on the path to being one of those elusive “employers of choice” on campus.

Good Luck, and remember don’t cut & paste that JD.  After all, you don't want to get busted for cheating now, do you?

Views: 194

Comment by Matt Charney on January 6, 2014 at 10:51am

Hi John - thanks for contributing some great advice and content to the site. I've talked to many college students the last couple weeks who have already reached out for internship advice as they're beginning their searches already, so think that your advice that employers should follow that lead and start staffing up now is spot on. I know that as a career services leader at one of the largest schools in the country you certainly see both sides of this equation, and appreciate your sharing these experiences with RecruitingBlogs.


Comment by Tim Spagnola on January 7, 2014 at 8:42pm

Mark from YouTern would appreciate this post. I agree w/. you Matt in that now is the time to move on this front. My organization has had tremendous success working w/. interns throughout the school year. We are fortunate to enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship w/. Wesleyan University that furnishes some great talent.

John- would you advise developing a deeper relationship with a single academic institution if it works? or spread the love around? I'm just curious from your perspective. Thanks for sharing the post. 

Comment by John on January 8, 2014 at 2:07pm

Hi Tim,

I'm a proponent of spreading the love around. Build a relationship with key geographic schools, but also take the time to branch out to other institutions. You can find talent in unlikely places (large and small schools, community colleges, hell even for-proft schools. etc. etc. Talent is talent).

The better recruiters & hiring managers have already factored working directly with career services into their recruitment routines. Others are trying to figure out how to engage, but realize (like everything else) that there is a time/opportunity cost element to college relationships.




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