Want to Attract Quality Interns? Here’s How.

By Adam Bowers
AdamIn agency life, interns are common. Internships are a win-win: Young public relations pros get much-needed experience and agencies get smart, young minds that are willing to do just about anything to get a foot in the industry door. Interns can be important assets to PR firms, especially small agencies.
So what are you doing to attract the best and brightest upcoming PR practitioners to your company? An ultra-trendy office and an impressive client list isn’t always enough to attract young talent. Here are three things that interns are really looking for in PR agencies (or any other internship).

1. Legitimate work

One of the biggest ticket items interns look for in comparing agencies is the type of work they will be assigned. Promote what type of work interns will be doing, not what work they won’t be doing. I can’t tell you how many internship postings I’ve seen that use the line, “You won’t be getting coffee in this internship!” That may seem like it would be attractive to potential interns, but internship standards have changed. No one really expects to get coffee for the office anymore. As college students become increasingly well-equipped and social media-savvy, they expect to be trusted to do legitimate work that will benefit client accounts. Interns now want to know things like, “Will I be stuck updating status reports, or will I also have a chance to write news releases, pitch stories and manage social media so I can add that work to my portfolio?”

2. Team integration

A close second to promoting the type of work you give interns is how you integrate them into your team. Interns want to work for firms where they feel like part of the team and not a part-time passerby. Do you invite your interns to internal meetings? Do you ask them to participate in brainstorming sessions? If not, you’re missing out on a valuable resource. Rather than grouping all the interns together into an “intern team,” make each one feel like an important part of the teams he or she works on by including them, as much as possible, in day-to-day account activity. Trust me, they will love accepting those Outlook meeting invitations.

3. Great people

We all want to work with people we like, but this is especially important for interns. Interns realize they will be doing at least some amount of mundane, less-than-glamorous work. But, if they know that they will be doing this alongside people that are fun to be around, they’re going to be drawn to your agency.  I became interested in RLF after meeting two employees at an information session at college. I could tell that they genuinely got along. Ultimately, I applied because of what their interaction showed me about the agency’s culture, not because of the agency’s client list, office location or prestige (though all of those things were great as well!).
If you’ve already got these three things, chances are that you have a strong internship program and even stronger candidates – and that’s good for business in the long-term. If interns have a good experience at your agency, they will tell their peers about their growth within PR and encourage friends to apply. Pretty soon, you’ll be up to your ears in resumes of ambitious young undergrads.