So you have worked with your team to create a great internship program that will benefit both your company and the recent graduates you will be hiring— good for you! But creating the actual program is only part of the first step. In order to attract the top talent you seek, you will need to write an effective and engaging intern job description that both accurately describes your company and the career-boosting tasks your intern will be completing. The best intern job descriptions do two things: They give potential interns the information they need to decide if they could be a good fit for the role, and they convince those potential applicants that this is a role they want.
The following tips and best practices will give your company everything you need to write an effective intern job description that solicit the best possible intern candidates.
State Your Cause
First off, don’t forget that this is a sales pitch. During an interview, it’s mostly on the applicant to explain why they’re the right pick. But, during the job hunt, it’s on the company and you to prove to potential candidates that they’re worth applying to.
No matter what business you are in, you have a cause and a mission statement. Include this and proof of your impact—on people’s finances, the environment, your client’s daily lives, etc.— in the intern job description.
This will especially go along way if you can’t pay your interns. Letting them know your company’s value and worthiness for a cause can be an effective way to attract the best applicants. Emphasize throughout the job description how the intern’s role and day-to-day tasks will be contributing to this mission.
The key to writing the best job descriptions and attracting the right candidates is being honest and clear. Let people know what they’re applying for and what your organization needs from them. This could be your intern’s first professional experience. They are going to want to know exactly what is expected of them so they can prepare accordingly. While your writing up your description, keep the following in mind:
Keep It Simple — Avoid jargon or complicated language. Interns are looking to learn and can be discouraged from applying if they already feel intimidated or unqualified based on the wordage of the job description.
Be honest about payment—Be explicit about whether or not the role is paid or not and how payment is handled.
Focus on their takeaways— Internships should be mutually beneficial! Emphasize the opportunities interns will have, the skills they’ll learn, and the people they’ll be exposed to. They will want to know if there is a potential opportunity to move up, gain exclusive knowledge within your field and how this will benefit them in the future. Don’t be afraid to use some excitement in your voice here. This, after all, is the real heart of the intern job description for the intern.
Be honest — There is going to be grunt work and your interns need to know that. While interns want to do high-value work, most expect that the role will include at least some administrative work. Be clear about what kinds of admin responsibilities interns will be tasked with and how much of their time will be devoted to these.
It’s okay to brag—Whatever perks you can offer, show them off. Maybe it’s monthly team lunches, coffee with the CEO, casual dress code days, or company outings. Ask employees and former interns what their favorite parts of their job are and advertise those in the job descriptions. It’s doesn’t have to be all work and no play.
Don’t be too picky — As mentioned, this is most likely the intern’s first professional job experience. They are not going to have a long list of experience in every field you would like them to have. Keep your requirements as open as possible to avoid disqualifying a potentially great candidate from the get-go.
Adding Additional Prompts or Questions
This little to no relevant work experience presents another challenge in your intern job description process — screening applicants. Without shining experience, it can make it harder for the hiring manager to differentiate between applicants and decide who should advance to the interview phase.
To solve this, try including a specific prompt in intern job descriptions to be answered in the applicant’s cover letters. For example, an education-focused company or non-profit might ask applicants about a teacher that had an impact on them. Or an internship at a local newspaper might ask how the applicant became interested in journalism. This will give hiring managers a better idea of each applicant’s personality and make it easier to identify bright spots amid the resume pile. This prompt will also make it easy to weed out all candidates who don’t follow instructions.