This might have been useful before the summer internship season started, but now you can gear up for 2018 or for your new Fall interns! Every hiring season, there is a new batch of fresh, wide-eyed students and recent grads anxiously hoping to get their foot-in-the door in the professional world. While big companies like Google, Deloitte, and General Electric receive applications in scores, here is how you can attract and retain top talent.

Attracting Interns

First, make a plan for what the internship will consist of and how the intern will be compensated. Remember, an intern is not just a low-paid employee. Legally, internships have to involve educational training, especially if it will be unpaid. Create a structured outline with specific duties, projects, or goals for the intern and write up a solid job description. Because many college students have not had professional experience in the past, they need to be made aware of what is expected of them in a role with your company. It will give them a foundation to start off on, and they will be more motivated to take their responsibilities seriously.

Generally, companies will offer either school credit or minimum wage as compensation, but throwing in other incentives will put you above your competition. Free meals, housing, transportation, or gadgets just may give you that edge you need. Let’s take a look at some examples.

MRM Worldwide, a digital agency in the Advertising Industry, is offering a program christened “The Apartment,” similar to MTV’s “The Real World,” but without the cameras. In their effort to get on par with the more widely recognized Wieden and Goodby, they are offering 5 Ad School graduates the opportunity to live rent-free in New York City while engaging in a six-month intern program. The flat is fully furnished and includes TV with free cable, an outdoor deck, and barbecuing equipment! For new top graduates attempting to get into a tough job market, a chance to live in NYC while getting paid for it would be a dream come true.

Unfortunately, not all companies are drawing in the extra revenue to give their interns all-expenses-paid apartments, but this line of thinking is a good way to start. Google gives free meals to all of its interns (and staff for that matter), so if you are planning on only adding one or two students, this would be a great pull point. Law firms are known for lavish parties in the Hamptons or at famous hotels, but any type of bonding event is a great way to make new recruits feel like valuable members of the team. A Blackberry or a laptop wouldn’t hurt either, or you could simply follow in Microsoft’s lead of giving each of its 600 interns a new Xbox console to take home!

A Rousing Job Ad

An accurate, informative, and attention-grabbing job description is essential in order to receive legitimate, quality applicants.

  • Give background information about your company and explain how it stands out from its competitors. What is unique?
  • Be enthusiastic in your writing so as not to bore potential candidates from the start.
  • Mention what the internship will do for the intern (i.e. networking opportunities, employment in the future, pieces for a portfolio?) What do you have to offer?
  • Be descriptive when writing out the duties, but do not exaggerate. Word will spread if the actual job fails to live up to the original ad, and it will not be positive.
  • If you have perks, talk about them! Also, discuss the work environment and culture to give an idea of what it is like to work for you.


I have seen one too many unconvincing job descriptions in my time, and I can tell you that smart college students will see right through poorly thought-out internships. Please avoid writing ads that sound anything like these I found on Craigslist, which continue to plague job boards:

The *** Restaurant, *** premier fine dining restaurant located in ***, CA is seeking an individual for a wine internship. The ideal candidate will have a solid wine knowledge and 3-5 years of experience in the wine industry- excellent computer skills and a proven track record of success. This is an unpaid position. Please email resume and cover letter with salary requirements to hr@***.com.

Basically, it sounds as if this restaurant wants to hire an experienced Wine Steward and is attempting to get out of not paying for one by labeling it an “internship.” If this is what you are looking for, please do not con college students into providing free labor for you. There can only be negative repercussions down the line. Even if this was a legitimate opportunity, it should provide details about the intern’s responsibilities.


Never write in all-caps. It is unprofessional and no one likes to be screamed at.

The candidate will have english, editing, journalism-related studies. Excellent written communication skills. This is a telecommute position, so the candidate must be comfortable working independently with guidance.

SALARY: This is internship is unpaid, position is for college credit.

Telecommute positions are usually scams and rarely involve any type of educational training, so it really just defeats the purpose of an internship. If you want an intern, someone at your company is going to need to spend time mentoring and guiding him or her in-person.

Brand Awareness

Now that you have laid out an impressive program structure, added gossip-worthy perks to the compensation package, and perfected your job description, how do you spread the word about your company to all the young, rising stars?

Partnering with college career centers is the best road to follow. You can choose which schools you want to recruit from, select programs that are in-line with your industry, and gain access to a vast resource of talent. Being listed at a university career center will bring automatic legitimacy to your name if you are a new company, and you will be able to build up a reputation for yourself more quickly. If you treat your interns well, other students at that college will be sure to hear about it.

Best of luck in the pursuit for interns this semester!