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How to Make Your Small Business More Attractive to Interns

Written by Angela Finding

Most prospective interns begin their searches by gravitating toward heavy hitters. They want to intern at Google or Apple, where offices are more like playgrounds, opportunities are boundless, and the pay is exceptional even for inexperienced students. To make matters worse, those big businesses have the cash to afford heavy promotion and recruiting for their internship programs.

How can your small business compete with companies of that level of prestige?

Standing Out

If you want to attract better candidates for your small business internship program, these are some of the best ways to do it:

  1. It’s technically legal to have unpaid interns (so long as they aren’t replacing any paid positions, along with a few other small requirements), but it’s fair to pay your interns for the work they do for you. Paid internships will always get more responses than their unpaid equivalents.
  2. Prioritize the experience. Instead of focusing on the disadvantages of a small business, focus on the advantages. What is it that makes your small business unique? Is it the family-like atmosphere? The connections to local businesses? The opportunity to stay in your awesome city? Offer these highlights in your internship program description.
  3. Use the right mediums. If you want to attract young people, you need to know how young people communicate. For example, it may not surprise you to learn that 88 percent of 18-29 year olds use Facebook on a regular basis; advertising in the local newspaper may not be the best way to reach those demographics.
  4. Be honest. You don’t have to offer a job at the end of the internship, but give prospects a reasonable expectation for whether or not you plan to offer one. You should also be upfront, detailed, and sincere about what their responsibilities will be and what you expect from them (as well as what they’re going to gain).

As a small business, you’ll face some unique challenges in competing with mid- to large-sized enterprises, but that doesn’t mean you can’t compete at all. You just have to flaunt what makes you better, and find the right angle to appeal to your target audience.

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