THE BLOG
05/31/2013 04:14 pm ET | Updated Jul 31, 2013

Adapt or Fail: The Current State of the Internship

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As internships rise in popularity, a wave of change has taken place. Students are finding new ways to learn about your company, they're more willing to engage online with your employer brand, and they want more perks and experiences than ever before. Staying in tune with the needs of your potential intern candidates can mean the difference between landing talented students for your internship program or receiving just a few mediocre applications.

"The State of the Internship," a new report compiled by InternMatch, an online platform that helps students find internships and companies hire talented students, reveals several trends currently shaping the landscape for internship programs everywhere.

"Today, finding great interns does not mean having to offer ridiculously high salaries," said Nathan Parcells, Chief Marketing Officer at InternMatch. "The 'State of the Internship' report reveals that by focusing on culture, professional experience, and online recruiting tactics, even smaller companies can start hiring the best students."

Flexibility is a necessity for the Millennial generation and it's a must for internships. College students juggle busy schedules and are looking for internship opportunities that fit their daily needs. This makes a flexible work schedule the No. 1 perk students are seeking when looking to take on an internship. Unfortunately, 62 percent of employers don't provide the ability to work even one day a week away from the office.

Is your company readily adapting to the current state of the internship? Here are a few more noteworthy findings from the report to be aware of:

1. Employers and intern candidates are connecting differently. While 50 percent of company attend at least one career fair each year, only 3.8 percent of students stated career fairs were the most helpful resource in their internship search. It might be time to put less emphasis on career fairs and begin delving into some other recruiting elements. Thirty-two percent of students said their personal network was the most helpful resource during their search, followed by their university career center (17.8 percent), and 15.8 percent used their university network.

2. Interns candidates want experience, not more pay. As paid internships become more standardized, you've got to bring a lot more to your opportunity than just a high salary. Only 8.8 percent of students stated financial compensation as the top reason for being interested in an internship, while 58.9 percent of students reported gaining experience and building a portfolio as the most important part of an internship experience. Transform your internship program to include beneficial long-term projects that add value to your bottom line.

That said, you should always pay interns at least minimum wage to be in compliant with the Department of Labor (DOL).

3. Interns are interested in aspects of your company culture. Forget the big-name company intern perks we've all grown tired of hearing about. There are many ways you can give your interns something special without a big budget. In fact, 24.3 percent of students reported that if a company has pets in the office, it would dramatically increase their likelihood of applying for an internship position.

If your internship program doesn't match up to what interns really care about, you're going to miss out on talented students.

Do you offer your intern candidates something worth buzzing about?