Robert Shindell - Marketing your internship programMarketing Your Internship Program

Before you can begin marketing your internship program to universities (and their students), a decision must be made as to which universities will be targeted. One of the things to keep in mind is that every university is different in their approach to how they handle internships and communication with their student population. The best method for targeting universities is to get to know the ones in immediate geographical area.

On the most basic level, at least investigating what majors are offered by a college is the beginning of an important part of college recruiting — targeting the correct college.  Just as a career counselor advises students to not take a scattershot approach to applying for jobs or internships, and to avoid blasting a generic cover letter and résumés to every company on earth, we also know that there are benefits to building a stronger relationship with specific colleges that offers students with the majors, demographics, geographic preferences, and other qualities you seek in candidates.

Targeting Universities

Targeting the right colleges can reduce the expenses of your recruiting efforts by focusing time, travel budgets, job fair registration fees, and so on, to those schools where you are most likely to succeed in finding talent that fits your needs.  Also, other employers meticulously target; if you don’t target you may be on the losing side in the impending “war for talent” as the Baby Boomer generation continues to exit the workforce through retirement.  (This is not to say an employer should ignore applications from students from schools that aren’t on their target school list; but to create a logical list of target schools can still be a good investment of time and energy.)

Of course, in the age of mass job postings and online application processes, it doesn’t cost that much more to post a job at hundreds of schools, but beyond a quick broadcasting of an internship listing, where do you really want to expend your effort?  Today, when almost all recruiting efforts can take place online which makes the job application process more impersonal, how can you win the war for talent by building a more personal relationship with a specific college or even specific students?

Some questions that you should consider are:

  • What makes each university unique?
  • What degree programs does the university offer?
  • What resources are available within the institution to support the students taking part in the degree programs that you will be recruiting from?
  • Does the university have any sort of research center dedicated to any of its degree programs?
  • Is it easy to find information about how the university interacts with employers?

Granted, learning details about all of the universities in a region can be difficult, if not nearly impossible. In the United States today, there are nearly 4,300 institutions of higher learning. It would be an impossible task to learn all of the pertinent information about every university!  Your best bet is to target those that are close to you geographically and  grow from there.


The is an excerpt from Total Internship Management: The Employer’s Guide to Building the Ultimate Internship Program. If you would like to order a copy, click here.