Internship programs are a great way for employers to get acquainted with the next generation of workers and train potential new hires in the skills necessary to get the job done.
However, an internship program is only as successful as the interns themselves, and there are lots of them. According to Ross Perlin who wrote the book "Intern Nation," there are currently more than 1.5 million interns in the national workforce. How can your company make sure that you attract the top candidates?
It starts with an alluring job description. Once you master how to write a job description for interns, you’re bound to draw in high-quality candidates.
The Purpose of an Intern Job Description
Consider the intern job description as both a job description and a marketing tool. It’s what will drive top talent to apply for your internship program over other options. Knowing how to write a job description for intern programs allows the brightest interns to find the best companies, and lets the best companies find the brightest interns.
Your intern job description advertises both the internship program and your company. For college students or recent graduates, it might be their first exposure to your organization. An effective internship description will make them want to learn more about the opportunity and get them excited about the chance to work with your company.
How To Write an Intern Job Description
A successful internship program is one that is mutually beneficial. As an employer, you gain an entry-level employee and get the chance to train this person in essential skills before deciding if he or she is a good long-term fit for the company. At the same time, the intern will receive on-the-job training, mentorship, networking opportunities, consistent feedback, and a potential full-time position.
An intern job description needs to reflect both sides of this relationship. It should clearly delineate the specific intern requirements as well as the benefits that potential interns can expect.
An effective intern job description can help generate excitement about the position and ensure that qualified applicants apply and understand the role’s responsibilities. Here’s a list of what to include in your internship program job description.
The introduction is your chance to draw in potential interns with a dynamic and engaging glimpse into your company culture.
Introduce your company and business objectives in a way that compels your reader to learn more. Write about an exciting new project, meaningful community outreach, or quirky office tradition. In just a few sentences, give the reader an idea of why your company is a great place to work.
Then, introduce the internship program or job title that is available. Make this title as descriptive as possible so that potential interns will know right away what type of internship you're hiring for.
For example, instead of simply writing "Houghton Company Intern," write "Houghton Company Public Relations and Social Media Intern."
After the introduction, get down to details. In this section, you'll want to set clear expectations about the intern’s responsibilities.
Focus on all the learning opportunities that your intern will get to participate in. Using the example above, this might include conducting research, managing social media accounts, and participating in public relations campaigns. Be sure to build these up as engaging tasks. It's a great strategy to list the most exciting aspects first to get your audience invested.
You also want to be transparent about the more mundane work, too. This doesn't mean you have to say "Make copies and deliver mail," but you could say, "Perform entry-level office work 20% of the time" to give some indication of these expectations.
You'll also want to include basic details like weekly commitment and the length of internship. Some questions to answer: Will it be full-time or part-time? Are the hours set or are they negotiable? Will it last for the entire school year, a single semester, or just for the summer?
Think about the essential details that matter to job seekers and include them here. This way, you don't waste anyone's time and you can weed out any candidates whose expectations or schedules aren’t a good fit.
Required Skills and Experience
Once you've described the opportunity and captured the interest of every potential intern reading it, it’s your chance to outline what your ideal candidate looks like.
Start with the basic non-negotiable skills and qualifications. If you will only consider candidates who have a bachelor's degree or are currently working towards a master's degree, this must be included. If you have a minimum GPA or required major, that's also crucial information to include here. If your interns need to know how to use specific software or write scientific reports, state these requirements clearly.
After you've listed the required experience and qualifications, you can list preferred skills, such as expertise in Excel, strong written communication skills, or experience making PowerPoint presentations. Be mindful of not listing too many skills or qualifications, and avoid using tons of technical terms that may be unfamiliar to a new employee. While you want to be transparent, you also don't want to scare off any strong candidates by making them think they have no chance of stacking up.
If the rest of the job description is the hook and line, the benefits section is the sinker. Here you make your final selling points.
At the very least, the benefits portion of the intern job description is where you'll discuss compensation. If the internship is paid, be sure to include that information prominently. You also want to indicate how the intern will be compensated, whether it’s an hourly rate, a set salary, or a stipend.
Also, consider what your internship program can offer that few others can. Maybe your internship program provides hands-on experience with proprietary 3D printing programs. This is a great selling point to include. If your interns will manage their own research project or receive mentorship from a top executive in the field, be sure to include this as well. These are all compelling advantages that you'll want to include.
Contact Information and Application Procedure
Finally, don't forget to include information about how potential interns can contact you or progress with the application procedure. This can sometimes be lengthy, so including a hyperlink to the application itself or to a separate page describing the application procedure is a wise idea.
Attract Top-Tier Interns
Even the most engaging internship program is no good if it doesn't attract top intern candidates. To make your internship program a resounding success, you'll need to create a strong and alluring intern job description.
A job description is often a potential intern's first contact with your company. It's there so that you have a chance to impress qualified candidates with the unique opportunities your internship provides. Be honest and upfront about what you expect the intern to contribute, what qualifications they must have, how much they'll be paid, and what schedule they'll have to commit to.
With these considerations in mind, you can write an impressive job description that won't just attract the top candidates — it will also result in interns who enhance your company and may even become high-performing full-time employees.
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