Category Archives: FAQ

Building your Internship – Recruiting Superstar Interns (Part 3 of 6)

In parts 1 & 2, you determined your organization’s goals for the internship program, outlined the duties and requirements of your intern, clarified the structure of the internship position(s), and decided how you will compensate your interns. Today’s post will focus on the next steps, Recruiting Superstar Interns.

Disclaimer: This section will provide guidance for employers building their programs independently of a school/program. In the case that you are partnering with a school or academic department, you may find that there are requirements that you must consider while recruiting your students.

Job Description

A job description that’s on par with a full-time, professional opening will help attract a high-caliber pool of applicants.  Personally, I’m a fan of keeping things are straightforward as possible (no trendy language or exclamation points) though I understand that some organizations/cultures like to represent themselves with that sort of thing. Ultimately, it’s up to you. My main suggestion is to remember what it’s like to be a student without years of experience in a field – the clearer, the better. Some previous blog posts with specific details and recommendations are available here, here, and here.

At the very least, I recommend including Title, Descriptions of both Duties & the Organization, Qualifications, Compensation, Location, and Full-Time or Part-Time designation. UCI’s ZotLink also prompts employers to include a few other details, including duration, hours per week, and job function.

Where to post?

Most, if not all, colleges and universities have an online job board.  For example, here at UCI, we have ZotLink, which employers can use for free to post jobs, review resumes and sign-up for events.  By all means, get your posting up as soon as you are ready to begin recruitment. You never know what kind of response you’ll get. Some of you may hear from ideal candidates a few hours after posting.  If you are not committed to recruiting from a certain university, then be sure to get your posting out to as many schools as possible (note: many universities share software that allows you to post to multiple schools at once, for a fee).

Be sure to that you also include the job description on your company website, especially if you have a “Careers” page.  Students will often go straight from the posting to your company website to check things out, so you’ll want to be sure that the opportunity is present and consistent in both places.

What else can be done?

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of additional options for you to get the word out about your internship opportunities.  Now, some may require additional budget, but not all. Here are some further ideas, with ($) to indicate those that are likely require additional fees, which will vary depending on the school:

  • Establish a presence for the opportunity on Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter/etc.
  • Host information sessions on local college campuses ($)
  • Reach out to relevant student groups of interest about your opportunity. For example, UCI’s student organization directory is available to the public, and employers are welcome to search the listings for professionally oriented clubs.
  • Purchase additional advertising space on local campuses ($)
  • Do you have former interns, or other GenY employees willing to speak about their experiences? Post some testimonials on YouTube or on your company’s website
  • Schedule a visibility table in a high-traffic location at a local campus ($)
  • Participate in a Career Fair ($)
  • Make sure all your internal employees know about the opportunity – some may want to refer candidates

Whew!  Hopefully that lists helps you get started. Stayed tuned for Post #4: Hiring & On-Boarding, to help you plan what to do with the lucky few that get hired.  Side note: there will be a few days in between this post and the next, as I’ll be off campus for much of tomorrow & Friday, with our Winter Internship and Career Fair in between on Thursday.

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Building your Internship – Structure & Compensation (Part 2 of 6)

Now that you’ve laid the foundation for your internship program, it’s time to move forward with setting it up . Today’s post will focus on (1.) Structure and (2.) Compensation.

Disclaimer: This section will provide strategies for employers building their programs independently of a school. If you are partnering with a school or academic department, you may find that there are requirements for how you structure your program/compensate your interns.

1. Key Set-up questions to ask in your organization: 

  • Where will the intern(s) work?
  • When will the intern(s) work?

The very nature of an internship program means that the intern’s learning and development should be central, so I recommend that you consider scheduling your intern’s hours on-site as much as possible. Having your intern working out of your physical space exposes them to your corporate culture and the behavior/attitudes of your other employees.  You will also have a chance to get to know him or her better, which will give you a better sense of how to proceed with assigning projects, evaluating, or even hiring them full-time. 

Scheduling can be tricky, as students who are in school will be juggling classes and other academic commitments, so you may want to take that into account before creating an exact schedule. That said, keep in mind that internships can be anywhere from a few hours per week to full-time, from one academic quarter, to a full year.  Whatever you decide, remember that a consistent in-office presence, and frequent interaction with supervisors and fellow employees gives the intern the opportunity to feel connected.

2. Key Compensation question to ask in your organization: 

  • How are we compensating the interns?

I’ll be sharing some additional resources later in the series, including more on this very topic. As you can tell, this is a meaty area so please consider this post to be the tip of the iceberg. We’ve also explored it on other parts of the blog already (here, for example).

Let’s look at it this way: It’s up to you and your organization to determine how you will be compensation your intern, not if. There are two avenues to consider, and anything else becomes legally questionable.

  • Paid: Just what it sounds like – the intern is earning monetary compensation for their work
  • For academic credit (also referred to as “unpaid”):  an academic institution or program is granting academic credit for the work the intern does related to their position in you organization.  Often, universities require additional class time and/or projects for the intern to complete to earn credit.

How do you know which one is right for you? Well, let’s take a look at one particular line from the Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act Fact sheet on unpaid internships.  This line relates to for-profit institutions, and says “The employer provides the training and derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern. Occasionally, the operations may actually be impeded.”

Yes, you read that correctly. I interpret that line to mean, if a for-profit organization has an intern performing any sort of work or labor that benefits the organization, it is not appropriate for the internship to be unpaid. So, I encourage any business hosting interns to pay them. Pay can be hourly, monthly, or even in the form of a stipend, and it’s up to your organization to determine what’s best and right for you.

For organizations, such as non-profits, that don’t have the resources to pay, know that you will have some legwork to do in order to ensure that interns are instead receiving academic credit. It is not enough to post the internship with “Credit” in the salary column. You must work with a school to ensure that your position qualifies and that they are in fact earning those academic units. Every university (and sometimes, as in the case of UCI, different programs within the university) has a different way of handling internships for credit. Yes, it could mean more work for you, but that is what it takes to make sure you don’t end up in a legal gray area…and no one wants that! 

Let’s recap…The questions pertaining to set-up that you should now be asking your organization are:

  • Where will the interns be working?
  • When will the interns be working?
  • How are we compensation the interns?

Okay, great!  Moving along, stay tuned for Post 3…Recruiting!

Building your Internship – Laying the Foundation (Part 1 of 6)

So, you’re interested in bringing one or more interns into your organization – great idea!  Let’s talk about that…

First off, I’d like to point out two outside resources with which familiarizing yourself is imperative. NACE, or the National Association of Colleges & Employers, and their position on interships, along with the DOL Fact Sheet on Internships.  You’ll find that many guidelines relate to unpaid internships, but I recommend that you consider them universal. Your internship will be well-structured, fair, and ahead of the curve in a number of areas. You will also notice that both have a permanent spot in “Employer Resources” here on this blog, should you ever need to know where to find them. 

After you’ve reviewed the NACE website and the DOL guidelines, I suggest that everyone in your organization who has an investment in your future intern(s) discuss the following areas:

  1. Organizational goals for hosting interns
  2. Departmental goals for hosting interns
  3. Intern duties and learning objectives
  4. Required Intern qualifications

And lastly,

    5. Assign mentors/supervisors in each department hosting interns, and allow mentors/supervisors to establish goals.

You can nail down these topics in a single meeting, in a series of meetings, over email, slowly over time, or any other way that you see fit for your organization. However you decide to approach these topics, the more thorough you are at this stage, the better off you will be in the long run.

It’s also at this stage where opportunities to measure success (however your organization defines it) will become clearer. We’ll touch on that in Part 5!

Coming up next: Part 2 – Setting up Your Program

Until next time,

DBO

Introducing Employer Relating’s First Blog Series!

I love how many employers are interested in starting new internship programs! It warms my heart to think that among seasoned professionals, there is a desire to help those newer in the field. Over the past few months, it’s become especially apparent that many employers developing internships would like from some clear guidelines and resources on the topic. And so, I’m happy to announce that beginning next week, Employer Relating will be a featuring 6-part blog series called Building your Internship – Strategies for Creating the Best of Both Worlds for your Organization and your Intern

While not meant to take the place of the necessary conversations you’ll need to have with your internal HR officers and leadership, we hope it helps you build the strongest program possible for your organization.

The 6 topics will be, in order:

1.            Laying the groundwork

2.            Setting up your Program 

3.            Recruiting

4.            Hiring, on-boarding

5.            Evaluating, concluding

6.            Summary, additional resources

So refill your coffee, sit back, and stayed tuned for the first post of the series to arrive early next week!

Until then,
DBO

The internship opportunity I’m offering is unpaid, so that means you’re given my intern credit, right? (FAQs, 5.0)

This question represents the tip of a very, very large iceberg. For the sake of our readers, I’m going to cover some basics in this post, but I can promise that this isn’t the last time we’ll discuss paid vs. unpaid interns on this blog (anyone else still following the Black Swan case?)

For the most part, I encourage employers to seriously consider paying their interns.  Internbridge has some great data available on all the reasons why paying interns usually leads to a more positive and successful experience for both the student and the employer. Some of it is really eye-opening. And remember, payment doesn’t have to be hourly – sometimes a stipend or a project-based wage can be a good fit, too.

That said, I understand that it’s not realistic for every company, non-profit, or start-up that needs/wants interns to have the budget to pay them. However, it’s imperative that the employer takes ownership over facilitating some kind compensation for the student.  It’s not enough to just declare that the student can get credit for the internship…it’s actually not up to you. If you want your intern to get credit, you must ensure that your opportunity actually will fit their university’s requirements.

Take UCI, for example. At the Career Center, we love to see students pursuing internship opportunities. Love, love, love it. Though, we are not an academic unit, and we can’t offer credit simply because you hire them.  We will, however, help you get in touch with one of our academic departments that will consider your opportunity to see if is appropriate to enroll the student in a credit-based program that coincides with their role at your organization. (Examples of UCI programs offering credit for internship opportunities are available here.)

That’s right…your opportunity has to be reviewed by an academic department to ensure that the student is doing work the meets set criteria, which varies from department to department. 

The good news is, if an academic unit feels it’s appropriate to grant credit to your interns, the university will help facilitate it. Your involvement will vary depending on the program in which your student is enrolled.  

Yes, it can take time to get in touch with the right folks and follow the right steps to give the intern credit. Though, the steps aren’t difficult, they are there to help our students (and you).  Isn’t that what internships are all about?

Stay tuned for more on this down the road.

Have a great week!

-DBO

Why aren’t more students applying to my posting? (FAQ’s 4.0)

This question helps me revisit that childhood dream of becoming a detective, since there is never a clear, one-size-fits-all answer to give.  It usually takes a little bit of digging to determine how to answer this question. Here are some of the many things we have to consider when someone brings this topic up:

  • What time of year/academic quarter is it?
    Indeed, there are times of the year when ZotLink is quieter. Midterms, finals, spring break, summer term, the list goes on. All of these shifts in the calendar mean that students are either busy or away, and that they are checking ZotLink less often.  There are also times when recruitment season is in full swing and it’s busier on ZotLink, meaning that you will have more competition with your posting.
  • How much (and what kind of) information is in the posting?
    Our students are very savvy. Clear, concise, error-free descriptions that demonstrate your company’s professionalism are going to be appreciated. Blank sections, vague information, or unclear messages will deter applicants.
  • How is the position described, and named?
    I can certainly understand the desire to stand out and showcase your company’s personality, though if you have a creatively-named position, be aware that not everyone will understand it.  Calling a Sales Representative a “Life Changing Relationship Builder” may match your company’s values, but it won’t make sense to those who aren’t as familiar with your lingo or personality.
  • What type of position is it?
    There are some types of opportunities that are simply more popular among our student body than others. Personally, I believe that nearly every internship, entry-level or junior position has a spot on ZotLink (we have over 40,000 students and alumni registered), but that doesn’t mean students are equally interested in all of them, unfortunately.
  • Is the compensation fair?
    There are a number of things many people (students or non-students) expect to get paid to do. Calling the experience an “unpaid internship” does not change that, and might lead to a less-enthusiastic applicant pool. On a related note, if your position is unpaid, but it shows up next to four identical opportunities that ARE paid, that will affect someone’s decision whether or not to apply.
  • What else do students know your company (from online sources, the news, word of mouth, etc.)?
    You could have the most perfectly-worded, perfectly-timed, well-compensated position in the world, though if a student knows someone who had a miserable internship experience, or who doesn’t like working with your organization, that may inhibit their application. In addition, if your organization has received bad press or has negative reviews online, that will also be a factor. 

Please keep in mind that you don’t have to figure everything out by yourself – my colleagues and I are here to work with employers and ensure that your recruiting efforts are going as smoothly as possible. I’ll gladly talk to anyone wondering how to maximize a posting.  Deep down, I like that detective feeling!

Until next time,
DBO

How do I reach out to more students/alumni about my job opportunity? (FAQs, Part 3.0)

What a good question, I’m so glad you asked! For the sake of conversation, let’s assume that you have already posted on ZotLink when you’re asking this.

The good news is, the Career Center offers a number of opportunities and recommendations to help you in this area. While some of our services do have various charges attached (reminder: ZotLink is not one of them), there are some things employers can do with a $0 budget to help your recruitment. Let’s begin with those, shall we? 

  • Use resume books
    When employers have a position available, they are welcome to request access to UCI resume books to actively view and search resumes of students (who have opted into the collection). Interested employers can contact me for questions and access at dena.o [at] uci.edu.
  • Volunteer with the Career Center
    We love our employer volunteers! There are opportunities available throughout the year for employers to come speak on a panel, perform resume reviews, offer mock interviews, etc. All of these opportunities allow for direct interaction with students which, as we all know, can help with recruitment efforts. Volunteer opportunities do tend to be in high demand by our employer friends, so if this is an area in which you are interested, it’s best to let me or one of my colleages know, and we can go over what we’re looking for with you. Space is limited, and we also like to be clear on the kind of information you’re providing to ensure that it doesn’t conflict with our values/mission.
  • Reach out to student orgs
    UCI Student Organizations are listed online here, and the site allows viewers to look up clubs and contacts. It is free for employers to find student groups that may be interested in their organization (there are hundreds of clubs, dozens of which have a professional focus).

That said, my colleagues and I are here to ensure that you are maximizing your efforts (and, not paying for things that you don’t need). Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you are interested in any of the above options: dena.o [at] uci.edu

On that note, Happy Friday, all! Enjoy your weekend!

-DBO