Internship Recruiting Advice — From the Interns Themselves

Governing Magazine featured a short article today citing a new survey by InternMatch.com, an online internship matching service. The article has a slightly gloomy tone, lamenting that only 14% of college students surveyed want to intern in government, compared to 66% who want to work in for-profit businesses and 20% in non-profit organizations. I think these results are actually pretty good! Given that government employment was only 15% of the total workforce in the 2010 Census, and there have been reductions in the government work force since then, the students surveyed seem to be in line with reality.

Some of the other results were not as positive. The most important consideration for choosing an internship cited was the possibility of full time employment or career advancement. Unfortunately, it’s tough to transform a government internship into a job offer. However, the next two important considerations are possible in government—relevance to the student’s field of study and potential for being mentored during their internship experience. Finally, a huge majority of the survey respondents used social media to search for internships—primarily Linked In.

All these are important factors for folks in government who want to get great interns! Here are 4 ways to enhance your internship advertisement and job description to attract the best and the brightest:

  • Maybe you can’t offer a full time job at the end of the internship, but you could explain how the internship could help a student find full time work in another sector or setting (for example, interning at SBA might give a student insight into finance needs of business, important info for a job in a bank or finance company)
  • To show relevance to field of study, you could indicate which majors would be the best fit for your intern position and why. Do you need statistics majors to analyze big data? Do you need a history major to catalog all the changes to a government program over the years and the impacts of those changes?
  • Make sure you clearly delineate the opportunities for mentoring and shadowing both the direct supervisor and possibly leaders in the organization. Students want to know if they will have access to you and to important meetings and discussions in the office.
  • Post your internship listing on LinkedIn! Students set up job agents on LinkedIn so they receive notices of positions that fit their specified criteria. Internship postings are free, and they provide a ton of resources to help you write an appealing posting. Don’t let bureaucratic barriers keep you from getting what you need.

Donna Dyer is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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