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a different perspective on human capital

Intern Search Success


Here at Treehouse Partners we have always had a great internship program. If leveraged correctly, such a program can be highly beneficial for both an organization and the students. Our philosophy has been to take on college students looking for experience, teach them real-world skills, and then let them go on to pursue their future aspirations with a little more knowledge under their belt… in the process, we get some great administrative support and a unique perspective for the semester.

Hiring an intern can be a challenging process. Since many applicants have never worked in an office before, they have no idea what type of environment they will thrive the best in. However, there are factors you can consider when interviewing to increase your chances of finding the perfect match.

Focus on skills, not experience: Let’s face it, your pool of candidates may not have much experience relevant to your company. Luckily, that does not mean a great intern is out of reach. Often it is easier to mold a hard-working, self-starter into the perfect intern than to just hire someone who seems to have relevant experience.

For our Treehouse Partners internship, we take a little more time to evaluate the skills the candidate has acquired from their leadership positions or club involvements instead of fixating on recruiting experience. If they have recruiting experience, great! If not, we don’t see it as a deal breaker.

Consider the timing: We cycle through interns 3 times a year –Fall, Spring, and Summer – to be in line with the colleges’ academic calendar. If you are hiring for the Spring semester – typically a January start – start your hiring process at least three months beforehand. If you wait too late to start your search, all the best candidates will already have found an internship.

Don’t be set on one candidate: As with any other position, intern candidates are always actively recruiting, so don’t be surprised if top tier students drop out of your intern search. If you think you have found your perfect candidate, make sure to ask if they are talking to other companies. If they are uncomfortable answering, they can say so. If they answer, you’ll be able to gauge how likely a candidate is to accepting a position with your company.

Other best practices:

–       We have had much better luck with paid interns vs. those who are receiving academic credit

–       Develop a list of tasks and projects your interns can work on well in advance of their first day (this will minimize the amount of time you need to spend micromanaging once they are on board)

–       Assign a talented employee who would like to gain management experience to manage each intern… this allows for them to gain some additional skills while freeing up more senior-level employees from the day-to-day management.

–       Give the interns exposure to as many aspects of the company/job as possible (have them sit in on meetings and take notes, allow them to participate in brainstorming and collaboration sessions, give them access to as many other employees as possible) – remember, an internship program is as much about you giving back as it is you getting a great part-time employee

–       Stay in touch with former interns… who knows?  Maybe they will be your next great permanent hire!

These are our tried-and-true methods of looking for an intern. We hope they work as well for you as they do for us. If you have done something different, we’d love to hear about it.

We also found a Forbes article that offers three great questions you should consider before starting your intern search. Good luck finding the perfect candidate for your company!

Read the article here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/sage/2014/06/18/how-to-hire-rockstar-interns-for-your-small-business/

– Written by guest blogger, Brittney Lo