5 Innovative Ways to Nab Diverse Interns

dv2171025If you’re not using diversity initiatives to source great interns, I have one question for you: Why not?

Diversity initiatives are a vital part on any recruitment strategy. In a survey of college recruitment professionals, 81 percent of companies stated they plan to focus on recruiting diverse candidates in 2014. In addition, 36.7 percent plan to reserve spots for diverse candidates in internship programs.

When you build diversity from the ground up — through interns — you foster growth and innovation. Diversity, both in terms of background and educational experience, can help to create stronger ideas, offer varying perspectives, and secure a multitude of skillsets. Plus, diverse internship candidates will contribute to the growth of an organization in the long-run: The intern you hire today has a 60 percent chance of being the entry-level employee of tomorrow.

After understanding what diverse students are looking for, you should go to the source to find them. Check out these five strategies:

Use Twitter. By now, you know the value of social recruiting. However, one platform stands to bring you more diverse candidates than the rest: Twitter. In a study conducted by Pew Research, 40 percent of African Americans aged 18 to 29 who use the Internet say they use Twitter — 12 percentage points higher than the figure for young whites. Not only is this an affordable way to incorporate diversity initiatives into your recruitment plan, it also reaches a diverse sector of the market through a medium they use most often.

PREMIUM CONTENT: List of Diversity Staffing Firms

Offer compensation. Most students hold some sort of loan debt. But African Americans and Latinos hold the bulk of the burden: research indicates these two groups are the highest percentage of college students who leave school with loan debt. If you’re offering unpaid internships, you’re effectively ruling out diverse candidates who can’t afford to take on work without pay. Offering at least federal minimum wage helps them to get out of debt faster along with diversifying your workforce.

Can’t pay your interns? Offer other perks, including skills training, access to professional development opportunities, or health benefits.

Participate in diversity focused career fairs. Diversity focused career fairs, either in-person or virtual, allow you to meet a variety of candidates before any of your competitors. Many organizations attend or sponsor some sort of diversity facing career fair, including 72.7 percent of Fortune 100 companies and 41 percent of non-profit organizations. Plus, if you have the opportunity to partner up with a university of professional organization, you have the chance to expand your reach and talk to more candidates.

Look overseas. If you want diverse interns, you’re guaranteed to find them abroad. International interns have a diverse background of skills, education, and personal experiences. Because of this, they may be able to assist with your global client base or projects that reach different countries. Therefore, in addition to helping you with normal tasks, they can create an impact on an international scale.  Just be sure to start early or use an outside agency in order to move the process along — it can be time consuming and may come with barriers to entry, like visas or the need for sponsorships.

Provide scholarships. A needs-based scholarship fund can be particularly attractive to candidates who need a little assistance to participate in the internship. Etsy is a great example of a company who did this right. After failed attempts of finding more female engineers, the e-commerce site decided to offer grants and public engineering courses to women. This diversity initiative worked like a charm: By the end of the year, Etsy grew its number of female engineers by 500 percent.

If you look at internship programs as a stepping stone to future success, diversity needs to be at the forefront of your recruitment strategy. By doing so, you enable growth, secure varying skillsets and educational experiences, and create more concrete teams.

What do you think? What are some other ways to nab diverse interns?

MORE: Why buyers love diversity

Ashley Mosley

Ashley Mosley
Ashley Mosley is community engagement manager of InternMatch, an online platform connecting the best intern candidates and employers. Connect with Ashley and InternMatch on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Ashley Mosley

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