Lehigh Valley Summit Shares Best Practices for Attracting Interns

By Colin McEvoy on September 18, 2020

Karianne Gelinas, LVEDC Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Research, hosting the internship summit.

Even despite the coronavirus pandemic, young people have a lot of choices when it comes to selecting internship programs, so it’s important that a company clearly communicates its value proposition and what it has to offer to prospective interns.

“They want to be working on a meaningful project and contributing to a larger purpose overall, not just making copies and getting coffee for somebody,” said Lisa Brogan, Program Manager, University Recruiting at Olympus Corporation of the Americas.

“In addition to the day-to-day, they’re looking for mentorship, networking opportunities,” Brogan said. “So each company should think about, ‘What can I give these interns? What is the story that I’m telling?’”

This was one of the takeaways from the last of two sessions of the second annual Lehigh Valley Internship Summit. Held virtually on Sept. 17, it was hosted by the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) in partnership with local colleges and universities.

“We are so glad that you have joined us today to learn more about attracting interns to your business,” said Karianne Gelinas, LVEDC Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Research, who hosted the event.

“I am sure that you will take away new ideas and beneficial tips from our speakers on how to market your business’s value proposition, how to attract and engage potential interns, and how to make the experience a success for both your business and the interns who work with you,” Gelinas said.

A full video of the summit session can be viewed below or on the LVEDC YouTube channel:

Organized through the LVEDC Education & Talent Supply Council, this year’s summit focuses how to start remote internships, recruit interns, create a virtual experience, and operate internships in today’s unusual circumstances and into the post-pandemic economy.

The first session was held Sept. 10. Brogan was a guest speaker during the Sept. 17 virtual summit, along with Cory Stevens, Volunteer & Internship Programs Manager at ArtsQuest.

Stevens said the best way to attract top interns is to define your requirements, articulate your story, and connect with candidates. He urged attendees to prepare a quick “elevator pitch” for their organizations, clearly communicate their mission statement, and inform prospective internships what a typical day will look like and who they will be working with.

Prospective interns also like to hear first-hand perspectives from former interns who previously held their positions, as well as young people who currently work with the company and are familiar with its day-to-day operations, Brogan said.

“They aren’t coming to you begging for a job,” Brogan said. “They are probably looking at other places and oftentimes, interns are entertaining multiple offers.”

Job boards, campus connections, referrals, and social media are good ways to connect with possible interns, Brogan said. She also recommended LVEDC’s internship toolkit for employers and its Lehigh Valley Career Development & Internship Directory.

Regarding social media, Brogan said it can be an excellent tool in attracting interns, but only if your company already has a strong media presence. If not, he recommended not trying to build that presence just for the sake of attracting interns, and waiting until you’ve organically developed a social media audience.

Olympus hosts about 50 interns each summer across a variety of areas of business, including engineering, marketing, finance, and other corporate areas, Brogan said. ArtsQuest hires about 25 interns across the entire year, Stevens said, in such areas as public relations, marketing, performing arts, graphic design, corporate sponsorship, production, and more.

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