Student populations have untapped potential when it comes to recruiting and sourcing. Especially when it comes to internship and entry level positions, students can be a worthwhile group of talent. But, how can it be accomplished? From establishing a working relationship with students to looking beyond candidates’ resumes and grades, here are insights from executives into the best practices for recruiting students for internship opportunities.

If Hiring at Scale, Advertise on Job Search Sites

The answer largely depends on the scale of the hiring and the skill set the employer wants the interns to have. You can quickly and inexpensively hire one intern with widely shared skills by advertising your job through the schools closest to where the job is located. The larger the number of hires, the more unusual the skill set and the greater the number of candidates you’ll need to enter the hiring funnel.

This typically means investing hundreds of hours of staffing time over 12-15 months to identify target schools, plan with them to interview on-campus, and then travel to and conduct the interviews. Or, you can do all of that within a few weeks and at about 10 percent of the cost by reaching students as you would almost any other candidate: through relevant, niche, and general job search sites.

Steven Rothberg
Founder and Chief Visionary Officer, College Recruiter

Host a Booth at a Career Fair

Host a booth at a career fair to recruit student interns. Many universities offer a career fair once or twice a year to introduce students to the working world and help them land an internship or a job. When hosting, you can establish a working relationship with students and tell them about your brand, mission and values, and make them aware of any open internships you have for the upcoming season. It increases brand awareness while recruiting students.

Ann McFerran
CEO, Glamnetic

Maintain Alumni Connections

Assuming you liked your alma mater, there is no better place to recruit. Fellow soon-to-be alumni most likely have a lot in common with your thought process and rigor.

Although this could create a monoculture, I have often found it’s a smart place to start because you have to jump over fewer barriers to develop credibility. The ecosystem of the university aligns alumni with business success, so it’s useful to align business goals with secondary benefits like media attention or class credit for the interns.

Trevor Ewen
COO, QBench

Employ a Multifaceted Approach

With our institutes and NGOs, we employ a multifaceted approach that addresses the unique needs and motivations of the student population. This approach should leverage a mix of traditional and modern recruitment methods, including social media campaigns, campus events and targeted outreach to career centers and academic departments.

Businesses must prioritize their internship programs by offering meaningful work experiences, professional development opportunities and mentorship programs that align with students’ career aspirations. By doing so, businesses can attract and retain top talent while bolstering their brand and reputation in the marketplace.

James Scott
Founder, Embassy Row Project

Make It Worth Their While

If you want to recruit high-quality interns, see them as an integral part of your organization. There is always this misconception in the corporate world that companies do interns a favor by giving them a chance to earn important work experience. While this is true, let’s also not forget that interns represent a unique type of raw talent that you can use for the organization’s best interests.

So, instead of just offering internship programs for the sake of it, make your program worth it. Create a budget for it and make sure your interns get some stipend to cover their expenses. Make sure you also offer credible career growth opportunities for these emerging professionals.

Do not pick someone just to assign them to coffee duty or somewhere in the mailroom. Let them get up close and personal with the core operations of the business, where they can learn and appreciate the work.

Logan Nguyen
Co-Founder, MIDSS

Develop an Appealing Internship Program

An attractive internship program will draw the attention of potential student interns. Take the time to create a well-structured program that outlines tasks, provides learning opportunities and offers flexible hours. You should also consider what perks you can provide that would entice students, such as a stipend or transportation help.

Matt Teifke
CEO, Teifke Real Estate

Use Your Greek Organization’s Local Chapters

I’ve had outstanding success in recruiting students by utilizing the local university chapters of the Greek organizations that I and my network are members of. The students and sorority/fraternity members must motivate themselves to provide a great impression and work output for their organizations’ alumni to maintain top grades.

They also have experience working in a group, working on multiple projects of various kinds and understanding that their work will be scrutinized from a variety of perspectives. They can make incredible interns.

Jeanne Eury
Owner, 8 Arms Group

Look for Those that Exhibit a Passion for the Field

You can most effectively recruit student interns if you look for individuals who are passionate about the field. When recruiting, look for individuals who have a genuine interest in the field—this will guarantee their dedication and eagerness to learn.

When I was in the recruiting field, I found that the best interns were those who had previous experience in similar fields, such as volunteering at a charity or doing research on a particular topic.

I also actively sought interns who showed initiative and had the desire to learn more about the industry. Interns who truly love their work will undoubtedly do better than those who take the job for other reasons.

Pete Evering
Business Development Manager, Utopia Management

Reach Out to University Career Centers

Many universities have dedicated career centers that connect students with internships and job opportunities. By reaching out to these career centers and establishing a relationship, you can tap into a pool of highly motivated and qualified candidates who are actively seeking internships.

The second step is to look beyond candidates’ resumes and grades when hiring student interns. Instead, search for applicants who exhibit originality, zeal and a will to meet challenges.

For instance, I’ve previously hired interns who had launched their businesses or assumed leadership positions in extracurricular activities. These encounters can show traits that are helpful in a startup environment, such as problem-solving, teamwork and resilience.

Percy Grunwald
Co-Founder, Compare Banks