Article main image
Jul 2, 2018
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
University recruiting is becoming more competitive than ever. Companies are on the hunt for top-tier talent that can integrate into their organization and ultimately onboard full-time after graduation.
While Indeed reported that employers are increasing their open intern positions in 2018, the searches for intern opportunities haven’t followed, meaning companies could face some fierce competition for interns this year.
Joe Shaker Jr., president of Shaker Recruitment Marketing, told HR Dive that, “Any candidate, regardless of experience, wants to know what that employer is going to provide for them. Early career candidates have a lot of options right now, so employers need to focus on branding themselves to build awareness and affinity.”
A study from Glassdoor reveals that 40% of workers are more likely to apply for a job when they are familiar with the company’s brand. The same study found that 60% of employers identify their brand awareness as a significant barrier or challenge in attracting applicants and hiring candidates. Companies with a weak consumer brand will ultimately have a weak talent brand.
So what can employers do to attract the top talent and show up as a cool place to work in the market?
Here are six tactics for university teams to successfully recruit top intern talent.

Create remarkable experiences

Contrary to popular belief, the days of interns fetching coffee and rolls are gone. From Day 1, interns are put on real teams and work on real-life challenges of the business. Every job includes some mundane tasks, so find ways to sustain the excitement. Inject excitement into the routine.
Teams should come up with a short-term, a midterm and a long-term project for each intern. This will keep interest going all summer long. “Students may not know what they want, but they know they want a significant experience,” says Pushkala Raman, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Marketing at Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas. Even if you’re a small business owner, you can reach out to your local college career center, and an internship coordinator can help you by sharing what skills students are most interested in gaining, whether it’s soft skills, biz dev research, or coding.
It all comes down to this, a positive internship experience will build long-term success for a brand by word of mouth. Students innately possess a strong sense of community and mingle with one with another. Students sharing their strong internship experience with each other is one of the most organic, grassroots ways to attract more intern talent.

Activate your company’s purpose

Millennials Want Companies Mixing Mission and Money. More and more employers are activating their mission at a global scale through programs, campaigns, and initiatives. “Millennials are seeking work with meaning beyond just making money, and they’re willing to make trade-offs to achieve their definition of success,” says Susan Sobbott, president of American Express Global Commercial Payments.
They’re searching for organizations with big goals and a high impact not only on their industry but the world. Values matter most of all, so make sure the values of your company are showcased on your talent brand platforms such as your social media channels, careers website, and job boards.

Use existing interns and new hires to recruit interns

One of the most viable and easiest ways to attract intern talent is to have existing interns recruit their friends and peers. The best way to do this is to ask the interns to come back next year and equip them with tools during their school year to attract the best talent.
Create, build, and establish an ambassador program to attract interns. Equip them with tools and offer them perks when they go back to school. As Business Insider reported in “Inside Under Armour’s exclusive internship program, which is harder to get into than Harvard,” Bryan Kaminski, Under Armour’s director of university recruiting and emerging talent says, “Our interns become our best ambassadors when they head back to campus. Not only to talk about their experiences as interns and everything that they got to do here, but they’re also walking billboards for the actual product.”

Use Snapchat to target university students

Did you know that Snapchat is tapping college newspapers to make campus stories and letting them sell ads? It is one of the most innovative developments in the intern talent space. Snapchat is enlisting student newspapers to create campus editions for its Discover section, which already includes large outlets like BuzzFeed and The New York Times. These will be available for viewing to students in the designated geographical area. Newspapers will monetize their efforts by sharing revenue from video ads with Snapchat. Snapchat’s partnership with college campuses is a strategic move that will surely further its goal of becoming a destination for consuming news.
Snapchat is an underutilized and very viable platform as Millennials account for over 70% of all Snapchat users (KRT Marketing). McDonald’s is using video ads and “snaplications” to appeal to young prospective candidates. The company launched 10-second video ads of employee testimonials. Maxwell Huppert reported on LinkedIn, “Anyone interested in a position would simply swipe up and be redirected to McDonald’s career website in the app. Once there, a built-in Snapchat lens lets the applicant try on a virtual McDonald’s uniform and send a 10-second video on why they’d be a great employee.”
[Image Source here]

Offer them social events

Millennials are socially oriented people. Offer them mentorships and partnerships. Set up social events where they get to meet other interns and employees in the company. Connect them with other individuals that have common goals or interests. This will not only help interns build strong relationships, but foster innovation, efficiency, and problem-solving. More and more companies are offering an encouraging platform for employees who want to form groups as part of their diversity and inclusion strategies. Not large enough to have a group? Find a leisure activity to enjoy after hours.

Attend University Events, Conferences, and Summits

Attending university events and summits can attract top tech talent to your company. For example, does your company have a presence at The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (Named One Of the 50 Best Conferences to Attend By Daily Muse)? It is the world’s largest gathering of women in computing. Invest time and planning to have a presence at conferences like this to recruit female engineering talent – highly sought after talent in tech.
Interns can be a game changer for any organization. Giving fresh talent a front row seat to your business can make a significant impact on your company and bring forth a new perspective on business problems that need solving.
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.