Inside the Mind of the Modern Intern: 5 Things You Need to Know

Inside the Mind of the Modern Intern: 5 Things You Need to Know
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Attracting high-quality interns is simple: Employers just need to know what matters to them. My company, Looksharp, surveyed 50,000 college students in April about their internship experiences, what they look for in employers and more.

Based on the report’s findings, here are some thoughts that go through the minds of today’s interns and how organizations can provide what they’re looking for.

Related: 4 Ways to Get Interns to Add Value

1. If I can’t find the company's job postings online, it basically doesn't exist.

Looksharp’s report found searching for opportunities online was one of the top ways students find internships. Not only that, but two-thirds of students use social media to research or network with employers.

Today’s students are becoming more selective when vetting internships. They want to know that the internship isn’t a scam, and they’re not going to take just anything.

To be considered a viable intern employer, a business must maintain a visible, professional presence on social media and online. Update Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn regularly to show students what’s going on in the company and why they should want to be a part of it.

2. What my friends say about the organization matters.

Aside from researching online, another way students look for internships is through friends and personal connections. While this might not sound like a big deal, this might be one of the most important factors in finding top intern talent.

Students internalize what their peers say about an organization, and if a former intern or employee had a poor experience, students will probably steer clear. Watch what people say about the organization online. If something seems off or needs changed, brainstorm ways to get the employer brand back on track.

3. I want to work for a place that embraces diversity.

Forty-three percent of students are looking for an internship at a company with diversity, according to Looksharp’s report. That’s up 12.2 points from last year -- one of the largest increases for 2015.

It’s clear this generation of students values diversity in the workplace more than any generation before them. Take this into consideration when building a team.

Hire people from different cultural backgrounds and walks of life, of course, but consider diversity in experience, too. Build the team with a variety of people who all think differently, so team members can cast a wide net relating to different people -- even potential interns.

Related: You're Never Too Old for an Internship

4. Compensate me and give me an experience that’s worth my time.

Our data shows paying interns can have a real impact. In fact, students with paid internship experience were about 16 percent more likely to receive a full-time job offer than students with unpaid experience. For this reason and many more, I fully believe all interns should be paid.

5. If there’s no mentor to show me how to be successful, I’m not interested.

More than 61 percent of students said working with a mentor was one of the most important aspects of an internship. Specifically, when asked who they’d like to work with at their dream internship,”students dropped names like Mark Cuban, Warren Buffett and Ellen DeGeneres.

Though working with these superstars will only remain a dream for most, the reality is students want strong, successful mentors who can show them how to achieve their career goals. Make mentorship a cornerstone of the internship program. Choose mentors based on the interests of different interns so they can learn about a career path most suited for them.

What is some feedback you’ve received from current or former interns? Did it change the way you structure your internships? Please let me know in the comments.

Related: 9 Tips for Hiring and Managing Interns Startups Need to Know