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Develop a professional relationship with the universities you’d like to work with. The industries your agency is working with at that time will determine the type of students to recruit. The goal of this relationship is for your agency to be provided graduate students from a university. These graduates are able to work in your offices or your client’s offices around the globe.  Donate to the university and your agency is provided with a set number of graduate students per year. These students manage your internship program of other graduates and possibly undergraduates…and they create a guerrilla marketing force to be reckoned with.

  • Your clients are demanding more from you. The only way to do more for less is to do more for less. Students are generally working for experience and/or university credit. For the students to be educated and experienced enough to take on the positions that away them after college (ie: in your agency) they need to be exposed to a layering process provided by your company. Perhaps this is incorporated into an Intern Manual for your organization.
  • Students are influencers! These are the people using social media to communicate with other consumers on a daily basis with no motive to market…just consume. And they communicate with so many different demographics. You have access to their family, friends, and everything in between. It’s important to utilize the big dogs with 2 mil followers. But what about the college student with 700 Facebook friends? If you’re trying to market on a budget, and we all are…get CREATIVE – that is what we get paid for. Not to put up signs and send outgoing messages. But, it’s all about your audience and goals.
  • Students learn fast if they are provided the right environment. As I learned from Dr. Richard Miller, co-founder of Text2Cloud and Executive Director of the Plangere Writing Center, an organic classroom is the best classroom. Companies willing to put the time in to prepare a fruitful environment for the students to grow and accelerate the company’s evolution will see instant returns disguised in many shapes and sizes.
  • Students can lead themselves. After your first consistent year you can pick one of the students, or a group, that act as the Internship Coordinators for the following year(s). This is an amazing opportunity for a graduate student. Look for graduate students that have exceptional references…it’s all about what their influencers say about them.

A few thoughts to walk you through…

  • Recruit for about 4 months before hand with simple-free online lead generation. Students sign up for internships a few months prior to the start date so you need to have your PR out with the other top opportunities if you want to attract the best. Set a deadline for applications. Spend a day going through all the apps and set up phone meetings with the top candidates.
  • Host your first semester. During this time you may lose some students who realized they aren’t interested. You need to prepare for that. If the students don’t individually have responsibilities but they have “group tasks” you should be OK with the rise and fall of a few stragglers.
  • The second semester you should focus more attention on the remaining recruits. This group will hopefully contain your leaders for the next year. These students can create your Intern Manual and Policy with the help of your company’s thought leaders. Leave your lead generation open year round as students come and go.
  • Implementing an incentive program will ensure a high level of reliability from your students. The cost for incentives could be packaged together from other organizations interested in providing resources to your project. Maybe a restaurant wants to provide lunch for the students year round, or the school donates it as a thank you to your agency for running an amazing program…it’s all about how you present it to the client.
  • The donation you give the university is tax-free because they are a non-profit institution. Now you’ve hired a group of skilled graduate students with experience working in your company by essentially making a donation to the university. Your internship program is sustaining itself and provides your agency with unlimited returns on a daily basis.

The rest of the planet needs to learn what the social pioneers have taught themselves. The business world still needs the pioneers, but they have already done the hard part…the wheel was broken and they fixed it. They put in their time and now they need a chance to use the skills they’ve gained to make an impact on the world. Working at a business shouldn’t be thought of as the end point…it should be thought of as a step in the process towards working for humanity.

Not only does this process help agencies cut costs while increasing collaborative capacity, but it also provides funding for many students to get a proper education…trained by the pioneers and thought leaders of our time.