Tips for Small Businesses to Find Exceptional Interns

by JC Burrows  - September 26, 2021

They say that "great minds think alike," and when it comes to finding exceptional interns for your small business, this adage holds true. As a small business owner, you understand the importance of having talented individuals on your team who can contribute fresh perspectives and innovative ideas. But how do you go about finding these exceptional interns? In this discussion, we will explore a variety of tips and strategies that can help you attract and select the best interns for your business, ensuring that you have the support and expertise you need to take your company to new heights. So, let's dive into the world of intern recruitment and discover the secrets to finding exceptional talent.

Key Takeaways

  • Clearly define program objectives, expectations, and desired qualifications for interns.
  • Utilize online platforms, job boards, and social media to reach a wider pool of candidates.
  • Implement a structured selection process, including interviews and skills assessments.
  • Leverage existing industry connections, professional networks, and college resources to find exceptional interns.

Define Your Internship Program Goals

To create a successful internship program, it is crucial to clearly define your goals and objectives. Defining program objectives is the first step towards setting internship expectations. Before you start recruiting interns, take the time to identify what you hope to achieve through your internship program. Are you looking to provide students with hands-on experience in a specific industry? Or do you want to develop a pool of potential future employees? Clearly articulating your goals will not only help you attract the right candidates but also guide their experience throughout the internship.

When defining your program objectives, consider the skills and knowledge you want interns to gain during their time with your company. Do you want them to acquire technical skills, develop their communication abilities, or learn about the inner workings of your industry? Clearly outlining these goals will help you create a structured internship program that aligns with your company's needs.

In addition to defining program objectives, it is important to set internship expectations. Clearly communicate to your interns what is expected of them in terms of work hours, dress code, and behavior. Provide them with a clear job description and outline their responsibilities and tasks. Setting clear expectations from the beginning will ensure that both you and your interns are on the same page and working towards the same goals.

Identify the Skills and Qualities You Are Seeking

When seeking interns for your small business, it is important to clearly define the skills and qualities you are looking for. Consider the desired qualifications, such as relevant coursework or previous experience, that would make an intern successful in your industry. Additionally, think about the essential skills needed for the position, such as strong communication or problem-solving abilities. Finally, identify the ideal personal qualities that align with your company culture, such as being self-motivated or adaptable.

Desired Intern Qualifications

When searching for exceptional interns for your small business, it is imperative to identify the skills and qualities that are essential for success in the role. Two key qualifications to consider are relevant experience and strong communication skills. Interns with relevant experience have a foundation in the field or industry, allowing them to quickly understand and contribute to your business. This experience can come from previous internships, coursework, or volunteer work. Additionally, strong communication skills are crucial for interns to effectively collaborate with team members, understand instructions, and convey ideas. Look for candidates who can articulate their thoughts clearly, listen actively, and adapt their communication style to different audiences. By focusing on these qualifications, you can find interns who will make valuable contributions to your small business.

Essential Skills Needed

With a clear understanding of the desired qualifications for exceptional interns, it is important to now identify the essential skills and qualities you are seeking in these candidates. Conducting a skills assessment during the hiring process will help you evaluate whether the intern possesses the necessary abilities to contribute effectively to your small business. Look for candidates who demonstrate strong communication skills, both written and verbal, as this will enable them to effectively interact with clients, colleagues, and superiors. Additionally, candidates should have a proactive attitude, showing initiative and a willingness to take on new challenges. Problem-solving skills and the ability to work independently are also valuable qualities to seek in an intern, as they will ensure they can handle tasks and projects with minimal supervision. By identifying these essential skills during the hiring process, you can find exceptional interns who will make a positive impact on your small business.

Ideal Personal Qualities

To find exceptional interns for your small business, it is crucial to identify the specific skills and qualities you are seeking in candidates. When considering ideal personal qualities, there are several important traits that can make a candidate stand out. One key quality is strong communication skills. Interns who can effectively express themselves, listen actively, and collaborate well with others will contribute positively to your team. Additionally, adaptability is crucial in today's fast-paced and ever-changing work environment. Look for candidates who can easily adjust to new tasks and environments, as well as demonstrate a willingness to learn and grow. Lastly, a strong work ethic and a positive attitude are vital hiring criteria. Seek candidates who are motivated, reliable, and enthusiastic about their work. By identifying and prioritizing these qualities, you increase your chances of finding exceptional interns who will make a valuable contribution to your small business.

Develop a Compelling Internship Description

Craft an internship description that captivates potential candidates with its compelling and informative content. Crafting an engaging internship description is crucial to attracting top talent for internships. When developing the description, it is essential to be professional, concise, and informative.

Start by clearly outlining the objectives and responsibilities of the internship. Be specific about the tasks and projects the intern will be working on, as well as any skills they will gain or develop during their time with your business. Highlight any unique opportunities or experiences that the intern will have access to, such as working closely with industry experts or being involved in important company initiatives.

In addition to the role itself, provide information about your company's culture, values, and mission. This will give potential candidates a sense of what it would be like to work with you and help them determine if they align with your organization's goals and values.

Include any desired qualifications or skills, but also be open to candidates from diverse backgrounds who may bring unique perspectives and ideas to your team. Encourage applicants from various educational backgrounds and levels of experience to apply.

Finally, don't forget to include details about the logistics of the internship, such as the duration, location, and compensation (if applicable). Be transparent about what the intern can expect during their time with your company.

Crafting an engaging internship description is a key step in attracting top talent for internships. Keep it professional, concise, and informative to captivate potential candidates and ensure that you find the exceptional interns your small business needs.

Utilize Online Platforms and Job Boards

leverage digital resources effectively

Once you have crafted an engaging internship description, the next step is to leverage online platforms and job boards to reach a wider pool of potential candidates. Online platforms and job boards provide an excellent opportunity to connect with talented individuals who are actively seeking internships. These platforms allow you to showcase your company and the internship opportunity to a large audience.

There are several online platforms and job boards that cater specifically to internships. Websites like InternMatch,, and WayUp are popular choices for both employers and students. These platforms allow you to post your internship description and receive applications directly from interested candidates. Additionally, they often provide tools to help you filter and manage applications efficiently.

In addition to general job boards, it is also beneficial to utilize networking and college resources. Many colleges and universities have their own job boards or career centers that specifically target their students and alumni. By reaching out to these resources, you can tap into a pool of potential interns who are already connected to your industry.

When utilizing online platforms and job boards, it is important to be clear and concise in your internship description. Highlight the key responsibilities, qualifications, and benefits of the internship. This will help attract candidates who are the best fit for your small business.

Tap Into Local College and University Resources

Tap into the wealth of resources available at local colleges and universities to find exceptional interns for your small business. College partnerships and campus recruiting can be valuable strategies for connecting with talented students who are eager to gain practical experience in their field of study.

Start by reaching out to the career services department at nearby colleges and universities. They often have internship programs in place and can help facilitate the recruitment process. Many institutions also have dedicated job boards or online platforms where you can post internship opportunities specifically for their students.

Consider attending career fairs and networking events on campus. These events allow you to interact with students face-to-face and provide an opportunity to showcase your small business and the unique opportunities it offers. Building relationships with faculty members and department heads can also be beneficial, as they can recommend qualified students who are a good fit for your business.

Additionally, some colleges and universities offer programs that specifically match students with local businesses for internships. These programs are designed to foster community partnerships and provide students with real-world experience.

Leverage Your Professional Network

utilize your existing connections

When it comes to finding exceptional interns for your small business, one of the most effective strategies is leveraging your professional network. Networking for internships allows you to tap into the connections you have built over the years and utilize them to find qualified candidates. By reaching out to colleagues, mentors, and industry professionals, you can ask for professional referrals and recommendations, increasing your chances of finding the perfect intern for your business.

Networking for Internships

To maximize your chances of finding exceptional interns for your small business, leverage your professional network through networking for internships. Attending networking events is an effective way to meet potential interns and establish industry connections. These events provide opportunities to interact with students, recent graduates, and professionals who may be interested in internships. When attending these events, be prepared with your elevator pitch and a clear description of what you are looking for in an intern. Additionally, make sure to exchange contact information with individuals who show potential. Another way to network for internships is by reaching out to your existing industry connections. Utilize your professional network by contacting colleagues, mentors, and business partners who may know of qualified candidates or be able to refer you to someone who does. Networking for internships is a valuable strategy that can help you find exceptional interns for your small business.

Utilizing Your Connections

Leverage your professional network to find exceptional interns for your small business by tapping into your existing industry connections. Utilizing industry connections can be a powerful tool in your search for top talent. Start by reaching out to colleagues, industry peers, and professional associations to let them know about your internship opportunities. Building relationships with alumni from your own educational institution is another effective strategy. Reach out to your alma mater's career services office or alumni network to connect with potential interns who are eager to gain experience in your field. By leveraging your connections, you can access a pool of candidates who are already familiar with your industry and have the potential to bring fresh ideas and perspectives to your small business.

Professional Referrals

Continue expanding your search for exceptional interns by tapping into your professional network and seeking out professional referrals. Leverage your existing professional connections to find potential interns who come highly recommended by trusted sources. Word of mouth is a powerful tool in finding talented individuals who may not be actively searching for internships. Reach out to colleagues, mentors, and industry contacts to inquire about any potential candidates they may know. Let them know the specific skills and qualities you are looking for in an intern, so they can provide targeted recommendations. By relying on the recommendations of people you trust, you can increase your chances of finding exceptional interns who are a good fit for your small business.

Implement a Thorough Interview and Selection Process

effective interview and selection

When selecting interns for your small business, it is crucial to establish a comprehensive and meticulous interview and selection process. This process should consist of thorough interview techniques and an effective selection process to ensure that you find exceptional interns who can contribute to the success of your business.

To begin, design a structured interview that focuses on assessing the skills, qualifications, and potential of the candidates. Prepare a list of questions that allow you to gauge their knowledge, experience, and problem-solving abilities. Additionally, consider incorporating situational or behavioral questions to evaluate their decision-making skills and how they handle challenges.

In addition to the interview, implement an effective selection process to identify the best candidates. This can include reviewing resumes and cover letters, conducting reference checks, and even administering skills tests or assessments. By using a structured and systematic approach, you can objectively compare candidates and make informed decisions.

Moreover, it is important to involve multiple stakeholders in the interview and selection process. This can include supervisors, team members, or even senior executives. Their perspectives and insights can provide a well-rounded evaluation of the candidates and ensure that you select interns who align with your company's values and culture.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Should I Pay My Interns?

When it comes to intern compensation, there are several factors to consider. You want to ensure that you are offering a fair and competitive wage that aligns with industry standards. Consider factors such as the intern's level of experience, the tasks they will be responsible for, and the value they will bring to your business. It's important to strike a balance between providing a meaningful learning experience for the intern and compensating them appropriately for their time and efforts.

How Long Should My Internship Program Last?

Finding the ideal internship duration can be a challenge for small businesses. However, longer internships can bring numerous benefits. They provide interns with more time to dive deep into projects, develop valuable skills, and make a meaningful impact. Additionally, longer internships foster stronger relationships between interns and the company, increasing the likelihood of future collaboration or employment. Consider extending your internship program to provide a more enriching experience for both your interns and your business.

Can I Hire Interns From Different Fields or Should They All Be From the Same Discipline?

When it comes to hiring interns, it's important to consider hiring from diverse fields. This can bring fresh perspectives and new ideas to your team. However, it's also important to maintain a balance between experienced and inexperienced interns. Having a mix of backgrounds and skill levels can create a dynamic and collaborative environment. So, don't limit yourself to hiring interns from the same discipline. Embrace the opportunity to diversify your team and benefit from the unique strengths each intern brings.

Should I Provide Training and Mentorship to My Interns?

Providing training and mentorship to your interns is crucial for their growth and your business's success. Training benefits them by equipping them with the skills they need to excel in their roles. Mentorship advantages go beyond just learning tasks; it allows interns to gain valuable insights, guidance, and networking opportunities. By investing in their development, you create a positive work environment and foster loyalty among interns, increasing the chances of them becoming exceptional assets to your small business.

How Can I Ensure That My Internship Program Complies With Legal Requirements?

To ensure your internship program complies with legal requirements, there are a few key factors to consider. First, familiarize yourself with the legal considerations surrounding internships, such as minimum wage laws and non-discrimination policies. Second, make sure you have all the necessary documentation requirements in place, such as proper contracts and confidentiality agreements. By staying informed and ensuring you have the necessary paperwork, you can create a legally compliant internship program for your small business.


Now that you have learned all the essential tips for finding exceptional interns, it's time to put them into action. By defining your internship program goals, identifying the skills and qualities you are seeking, and utilizing online platforms and local college resources, you can attract talented individuals to your small business. Don't forget to tap into your professional network and implement a thorough interview and selection process. With these strategies in place, you're on the path to finding exceptional interns who will contribute to your business's success.

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