Finding a Stellar Intern for Your Small Business

Interns aren’t just for large corporations. In today’s world, small businesses have a lot to offer young university students who, in turn, can help you tackle projects you simply don’t have time for. So let’s look at what you need to know about finding a stellar intern for your small business.


Competition for stellar interns is fierce and a great intern will not take just any internship opportunity. College and university interns are looking for real-world experience that they can showcase on their CV when they enter the job market. So assess your needs and identify a high-value project or two that your star intern can reasonably complete in a few months.

An internship project may include growing your email database 25% over three months with $0. Or completing market research and analysis that helps you successfully enter a new market. The more strategically important the project is, the better. And if you’re not sure, ask the colleges and universities you plan to work with about what types of experiences stellar interns are looking for. This way, you get something checked off your list, and your intern gets to advertise meaningful results on their resume.

Aggressively Recruit

Once you’ve defined a project you’ll want to start to aggressively recruit to find that stellar intern.

When? Now! Generally, interns are hired in October for Spring internships, January for Summer internships and April for Fall internships. The sooner you can get your internship posted, the better shot you’ll have at snagging a stellar intern. Take it a step further and reach out to advisers and professors to nominate someone.

Aggressive recruitment also includes advertising the perks. Be vocal about why your internship is better than anyone elses; more responsibility, prep for going into startups, access to your business contacts, travel to Las Vegas for a tradeshow. Advertise all the perks, no matter how small.


Hiring an intern is like hiring for a full-time job, with the notable exception that you’re not hiring skills. Instead, look for signs that intern candidates are coachable and have a can-do attitude. Get references from coaches and teachers. Ask behavioral-based questions around how candidates negotiated ambiguity or solved a problem on their own.

Finding an amazing intern for your small business can be a fun, inexpensive way to invigorate your business and get some high-value projects completed. And like most things, over time finding stellar interns will become easier and easier.

By Andrew Patricio

September 18, 2017