Finding great students and recent graduates for your internship program is no easy feat. And if you’re like most companies, you’ve probably got an agenda set for reaching a new or more diverse audience as you expand your search for outstanding potential intern candidates. But are you actively recruiting veterans for your internship program?
With approximately 200,000 people transitioning out of the military every year, there’s no shortage of veterans. And in terms of non-military experience and education, veterans have a lot to show. Many have college degrees or technical training, while others are heading back to college to get ahead in their careers.
The point is, veterans make highly talented interns, but they often go unnoticed when it comes to recruiting and hiring. Your internship program is the perfect place for veterans to gain hands on, immersive experience in their future career field.
All you have to do is update your internship recruiting strategy to follow suit. Here’s how:
1. Share the ins and outs of your company. Every business has a story to tell, and doing so will work to attract talented intern candidates of all kinds, not just veterans. Potential veteran intern candidates may pass up your internship role if they don’t see your company as a good fit for their interests and skills.
Finetune your company’s story about its mission, culture and inner workings not just on your your internship job listing, but also on your company’s social media or career pages. For example, if you have any other veterans currently working for your company, share their employment success stories as a highlight on your website or within your internship listing.
2. Understand their transferrable skills. Veteran candidates have more experience than the average intern candidates, but it might not be displayed in a way that’s easily understood. Seek out transferable skills within military resumes by taking time to understand them and by using a military skills translator. For instance, your potential veteran intern candidates may have several years of management and organizational experience, but might be lacking in terms of technical skills. If there are any gaps you still don’t understand, be sure to give them a chance to explain how their skills can transfer to your open position.
3. Develop a veteran-compatible internship job listing. There’s no faster way to turn a potential intern candidate away than filling your listing with a slew of industry jargon or special skills. Remember, internships are a time for learning, training and mentorship — you shouldn’t expect your candidates to come to you as perfect employees.
Rather than filling your internship listings with highly specific technical skills, focus on presenting a more general side of your internship. Point out soft skills like communication, teamwork and project management, which are easily transferrable in terms of veteran experience. Or, create a clause in your internship program that allows your to mold internship roles based on applicant experience.
4. Expand your military network. It’s time to begin making valuable connections with the military community to ensure you’ll gain access to talented veteran candidates. While you may already be attending college job fairs, develop a strategy to build connections that ensure your attendance at job fairs on military installations. Many universities also have military programs and tight military connections. Consider visiting a nearby college’s ROTC center to give a presentation on career opportunities at your company, or post your listing to job boards, internship sites and job aggregators that cater specifically to military vets.
5. Offer noteworthy opportunities. Give your interns something extra by offering a variety of training and mentoring opportunities within your internship program. These types of experiences will have a huge impact on a veteran’s career by preparing them for the workforce beyond your internship opportunities. Consider offering training for key industry-related software, paid attendance at a conference, or participation in a personal mentorship program.
6. Utilize rotational programming. Give your veteran interns a chance to experience a well-rounded view of your company and industry by developing a rotational internship program. This is a huge selling point for veteran candidates looking to gain new skills and real world experience. This will give them exposure to a variety of different roles and departments within your company, potentially opening the door to new positions and greater versatility in the future.
Veterans make great interns — don’t overlook these passionate candidates. It’s time to start recruiting them today!
How are you connecting with veterans?
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.