"I thought of you yesterday, Matt. I'm dealing with hiring interns (it's been a nightmare so far!). I hired an intern who worked one day and then asked me if he could use me as a reference on his resume. Ugh. Remind me again why you love this process so much! : ). You're freaky!"
Here were some of my thoughts:
- Don't sacrifice on quality, but give on everything else. Look for an impressive, creative, or a cool past job experience. Compromise on work assignments, hours, days they work, tools you can get them, exposure to cool projects, whatever .... Give them free reign, a "professional playground." Make sure you give a real resume building experience and make that appealing to applicants. This will likely mean that you can't rely on them to deliver for your next deadline (or format that boring report) but they'll bring value.
- Pay something. If you can avoid making the internship unpaid, do it. Pay $5/hour stipend, train fair, buy lunch... Anything you offer makes a big difference over the other completely unpaid opportunities out there.
- Write a fun, creative, different, but realistic posting - this is a lengthy topic by itself, but spend some time. Explain your company, what you are looking for, the perks, and make it fun! Free posting spots should be able to give you what you want. I like www.startuply.com (its free). Another good place to start an intern search is, of course, www.craigslist.org.
- Add fun screening questions that applicants must answer in order to get a response. This helps cut through the spam-of-crap applicants and can give a real glimpse of personality, drive, and quality. For example,
Tell me a joke? Which of our current clients do you like most and why? What was a favorite viral video in the last year and why? Simple questions relating to the work are good too! What resource would you use for arranging travel from SF to NY? What are some common tasks of a PR company? State you are busy and will only respond to applicants that answer all of your questions. Very few candidates will respond to individual questions and the ones that do will really want the job.