15 Tips For Attracting The Best College Interns To Your Startup


by The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC)


Question: How do you attract the best and brightest college interns to your intern program?


1. Creativity Takes the Cake

“College students don’t want an internship at a hot, upcoming startup to be an experience similar to an internship at a blue-chip company –  that completely defeats the purpose of choosing to intern for a startup (and let’s be honest, we only want interns with a choice). Give them responsibility and encourage their creativity, this will make them feel valued and is worth more than anything.”


Christopher Pruijsen | Co-Founder / Partnerships (UK), FounderBus



2. Retarget Your Market

“Instead of getting press on hot blogs like Mashable, ReadWriteWeb and The Next Web, and marketing your internship through Google Ads. Try inbound marketing tactics that’ll surely weed out the students who are eager to take any old job, and you’ll find interns who are already excited about working with you. Blog about your internship opportunity. Tweet about it. Share it on Facebook.”


Danny Wong | Co-Founder, Blank Label Group, Inc.



3. Plan Non-Work Activities

“The best internship programs are not just about the projects on-the-job. The best interns are looking for summer programs that enable them to bond with other interns, learn from executives at the firm, and more. Enhance your internship program with activities outside the workplace for the interns to participate in. Promote these, alongside the projects, to attract the best possible candidates.”


Doreen Bloch | CEO / Founder, Poshly Inc.



4. Help Them Craft Their Resume

“Interns are looking for resume builders. Think of the projects you design for your interns as potential resume bullet points – the ones that highlight achievements and performance metrics. It’s a great way to sell the role, align your team on how to best manage resources and build in clear goals and accountability.”


Karen Moon | Co-Founder & CEO,



5. Want a Summer Intern? Start Now

“Most companies wait until right before the summer starts before they start to look for interns. Be different and start now. You’ll stand out and have a chance at the best before they are already taken by other companies.”


Nathan Lustig | cofounder, Entrustet



6. Join In!

“Join in on some of the on-campus events on entrepreneurship and startups. Hungry students will be part of these groups!”


Lauren Perkins | Founder and CEO, Perks Consulting



7. Let’s Get Physical

“There’s no better way to recruit than to physically go to internship and job fairs on college campuses. Students will see the energy you and your team have, and will naturally be drawn to your company’s table. Taking it a step further, ask former interns help recruit new ones at these events, so students get a true perspective of the internship.”


Bhavin Parikh | CEO, Magoosh Test Prep



8. The Public Speaking Trick

“I recently gave a presentation at a local university, without any intention of purpose, and just gave a talk from my heart. That afternoon, I was blown away with internship requests. The faculty said that I was one of the few that really connected with the students. Go out and blow them away, help them on their turf and they will knock down your door to work with you.”


Greg Rollett | CEO, The ProductPros



9. Use Your Network to Spread the Word

“Advertise the internship through the word of mouth of young professionals who are already working (happily) at your organization. Be very clear about what interns will learn and accomplish over the summer, and don’t promise on anything you can’t deliver.”


Alexandra Levit | President and Founder, Inspiration at Work



10. Tap Professors You Trust

“Professors work hard to make sure that their best and brightest students get great internships. They’re the ones that suggest opportunities and help students sort through offers. So you’ve got to connect with professors. Start with those professors who you’ve had the chance to personally learn from and then start looking at other academics in your area.”


Thursday Bram | Consultant, Hyper Modern Consulting



11. Form Relationships With Organizations

“Quickly form relationships with great college programs. For example, we get top-tier talent for the summer by working with the University of MO Entrepreneurship Alliance. The director personally recommends students. This kind of connection makes recruiting easy because you get top talent, while letting someone else is doing most of the vetting.”


John Hall | CEO, Digital Talent Agents



12. Be Flexible and Virtual

“My interns work remotely and have total flexibility on how and when they get their work done, as long as they meet their deadlines. That means they can travel, have another job, spend a day at the beach or do whatever else they want over the summer – all while still gaining valuable internship experience. They win on having an awesome summer, and I win in having awesome interns.”


Elizabeth Saunders | Founder & CEO, Real Life E®



13. Find the Right Channel

“Truly examine the role you are looking fill. What tools and channels are those students using to search for openings? Looking for a social media maven? Post listings on Twitter and Facebook. Looking for a sharp developer? Attend (or even host!) a hackathon.”


Justin Beck | Co-Founder and CEO, PerBlue



14. Sell the Learning Aspect

“I’ve structured our intern program so that interns learn a little bit of everything, from writing and social media to search engine optimization. By sharing this in the ad, it helps attract candidates who are really serious about learning and taking part in our company.”


Heather Huhman | Founder & President, Come Recommended



15. The Best and Brightest Are Hidden!

“Remember to hire the personality. The best internship hire I ever made had only babysitting experience on her resume. I put the sheet of paper down, took a close look at her personality and trusted my intuition, which proved to be right!”


Christopher Kelly | Co-Founder, Principal, Sentry Conference Centers



Photo Credits

The YEC | Mark Warner

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