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Part I: Best Practices in Recruiting Super Interns for a Startup Company

Super Startup Intern WantedI posted a list of internship resources startups can use when recruiting interns a few weeks ago. A commenter asked if I could write a follow-up entry on what I actually submit when I distribute my listings. In this post, I’ll do just that as well as provide recruiting advice to increase the probability of attracting the best interns for your Company.

Backstory:

I’ve have tremendous success with interns at my startup. I started as a marketing intern myself at Team and a Dream (now Philly Marketing Labs) and it is how I got my start in this industry. It was one of the best experiences I’ve had professionally and I attribute it to the Founder, Skip Shuda, and his philosophy of providing interns with “big shoes to fill” as he liked to say. His thought on the best way to learn is to provide someone with a big project or task to see how he/she ends up “fitting” into the shoe. At the same time, this method gives the employer a sense of what that person’s strengths and weaknesses are early on. From there, the employer can incorporate him/her into projects where their strengths can shine and help them work on the areas they need to improve on.

Intern Description Techniques:

I like having diverse groups of students apply for the opportunities we post at 123LinkIt so I don’t include specific details in the requirements sections or add limitations such as GPA. This is because I want a wide range of applicants. I’ve found that students with higher GPAs and double majors (excluding graduate students) have limited work backgrounds while those with average GPAs possess real life experience. While it’s rare to find students who fit into both, they do exist and I try to grab them quickly.

Startups have an advantage over established corporations because they can provide interns with more responsibilities and a better experience in a shorter time-frame. If you showcase that in the right way, you’ll have numerous applicants…even if the position is for experience only. Most of the job descriptions you read are boring and they eventually start to sound alike. Knowing this, the best advice I can provide is to make yours stand out. Here are some other Do’s and Don’ts:

Do’s:

  • Sound human vs. corporate-like.
  • Start by explaining why your opportunity is great in one or two sentences (an eye-opener of sorts).
  • Describe in detail what they’re going to get out of it.
  • Provide credibility factors (if any – such as awards or press received).

Don’ts:

  • Don’t try to sound bigger than you are.
  • Don’t use ninja, rock star, superstar, etc. Yes, it’s been overdone.
  • Don’t copy your Company description directly from the site (customize everything).
  • Don’t set an education or GPA requirement.
  • Don’t be vague about the compensation details or not list them at all.

Intern Description Example:

I dug this out at my archives and I remember being inspired by another Company listing I read. I wish I could remember the name so I can give them credit. You’ll notice it fits the criteria listed above.

Prepare for the experience of a lifetime! Work with great people, learn how to market online, and help a startup expand from the ground up.

You will join a local startup with an impressive Board of Advisors and an experienced entrepreneur. Get ready for more responsibility than anyone else would dare give you.

About the company: 123LinkIt.com is a local startup that specializes in creating online tools to help bloggers make money from their sites. Our first tool, a WordPress affiliate plugin, automatically transforms product keywords into revenue generating links.

We’re looking for two student interns who are passionate about technology, innovation and entrepreneurship to assist an emerging local startup that has received First Place in Temple University’s Business Plan Competition. In return, we will offer you mentoring, experience, referrals and visibility into the inner circles of the technology industry.

Internship details:

- One role requires great writing skills and out-of-the-box thinking. Interns will be supplied with a list of advertisers and blog categories. They will be asked to devise blog topic ideas for users that promote products/services in a unique and creative way.

- Another role requires leveraging the company’s communities on Twitter and Facebook to continue building their online community. Social media training will be provided.

Prerequisites: Openness to learn, willingness to try anything, good communication & writing skills, web-savvy. Bloggers preferred but not required.

Location: Temple University’s Main Campus IEI office

Hours, compensation: Hours are as flexible as you can handle. Compensation includes meals/transportation.

Send resume to: Yasmine Mustafa, Founder of 123LinkIt.com, yasmine@123LinkIt.com

Finding great interns takes time and it’s well worth the effort. On a future post, I’ll be following up with how to wade through resumes, conduct interviews to find the right candidate and I’ll also provide tips on how to work most effectively with interns.