cracked pink pig moneybox with hammerIs your internship program on a strict budget? No problem. Recruiting and hiring talented students and recent graduates for your internship program doesn’t require shelling out the big bucks.

That’s right—you don’t need to make a “greatest place to work” list or tout any off-the-wall perks. What talented potential candidates really want is an educational, immersive, hands-on internship experience. If you’re willing to offer that and know how to go about promoting it, then you’re as good as gold.

You can keep your budget in check and still recruit and hire great interns with these tips:

1. Let your social networks be your secret weapon. Building your employer brand through social networks is a great way to gain awareness and engage potential intern candidates in a space where they’re already active. And the best part is that it’s completely free.

Develop your employer brand on the social channels most fitting for the audience you’re attempting to reach. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are great places for any company to get active, but don’t forget about more industry-specific social sites like Dribbble. Focus on showcasing your company culture while also promoting hiring and internship opportunities. Regularly post updates and photos, answer questions, create polls, and generate buzz. The more time you spend engaging potential candidates, the better intern applicants you will acquire.

2. Find new ways to spread your message. Breaking away from traditional recruiting methods doesn’t have to break the bank. Job postings are a great way to get the word out about your internship opportunities, but why not fuel that message with something of the multimedia nature?

Video blogs, podcasts, and Google Hangouts can really pack a punch when it comes to your intern recruitment efforts. For example, consider creating a video blogging series based around the lives of your interns. Record your interns for a week as they work on their projects, meet with clients, attend company events, or just goof around in your office. Posting this inside look into your internship program will help to entice and engage students and recent graduates.

3. Go beyond the job fair. Building strong educational connections is a low-cost way to ensure you’re recruiting top students and recent graduates from all over the country. But in a recent InternMatch survey, only 3.8 percent of students said that career fairs were the most helpful resource in their internship search. So, why not focus your talent scouting at more than just job fair events?

For example, you may be looking for an amazing engineering intern. Go beyond the job fair and get in contact with professional student organizations at universities with strong engineering programs. Ask to speak at one of their meetings to spread awareness about your internship program and interact with talented students.

4. Forget big-name perks. Seriously, you don’t need a café in your office to draw in the best intern talent. Who has the budget for that anyway? Instead, focus on providing your interns with unmatched networking, training, and mentoring opportunities. These are some of the best perks you can offer when it comes to kick starting the careers of your interns.

Use your job postings and social networks to brag about the amazing opportunities you give your interns. For instance, consider showcasing your unmatched mentoring program, paid attendance to a variety of industry networking events and conferences, and in-house training opportunities on industry-specific tools. These perks won’t sink your budget, but they will draw in talented intern candidates.

5. Give them an amazing experience. In the same InternMatch survey, 58.9 percent of students said gaining experience and building a portfolio was the most important part of their internship experience. Providing your interns with awesome projects won’t cost you. In fact, their work could even boost your bottom line.

Stumped on meaningful project ideas for your interns? At Salesforce, interns complete a semester-long project and pitch it to senior executives, while other companies allow their interns to build content distribution platforms, write SEO landing pages, and even monitor social media channels.

6. Focus on flexibility. Interns crave flexibility. In fact, InternMatch found that 55 percent of students said being allowed to work from a coffee shop just one day a week would dramatically increase their odds of applying for a role. One low-cost way to recruit talented students is to play up your interest in flexibility.

Consider allowing your students to work from home or a public place at least once a week. If you’re really looking to stand out, transform your internship opportunities to make them completely virtual.

7. Challenge your potential intern hires. Nothing drives competition more than a challenge. Many companies are coming up with intern challenges to attract talented students within their industry.

For example, Under Armour created a social media challenge to help them land the “Ultimate Intern.” Those interested in the internship were asked to upload their resume and complete social challenges throughout the application process—including a 40-second speech and an interview with an athlete—to prove they have what it takes to excel at the company.

Your internship program budget may be small, but that doesn’t mean it should hold you back from recruiting and hiring the best intern talent.

What low-cost methods do you use to recruit and hire interns?



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