Building a Startup Internship Program: Intern Job Description Template & Hiring Plan

Last week, we kicked off a new series on starting a startup internship program. In this post, you’ll learn how to write effective intern job descriptions and design a killer intern hiring plan.

Building effective job descriptions for internship openings is just as important as building great descriptions for full time openings. After all, you still want to attract the best candidates for the role, right?
In fact, descriptions for internship openings can be even more important since you rely on the inbound candidates almost exclusively — as opposed to full time openings where you may proactively recruit passive candidates for the opening.

Writing Effective Job Descriptions

Intern descriptions can be tricky; you’re not looking for a ton of experience and the responsibilities of interns can be vague and ever changing. To avoid a sparse description, emphasize the company and opportunity. Every intern description should include:

  • Intern’s Title
  • Company Name and Location
  • Company description
  • Internship semester (include anticipated start and end dates if desired)
  • Responsibilities (make sure they are “included but not limited to”)
  • Requirement
    • Pursuing bachelors degree in X
    • Any experience needed (Microsoft Office, HTML scripting, etc).
  • Soft skills
    • Communication skills, leadership skills, etc.

Download a Quick Intern Job Description Template

Save time by downloading our customizable template:
intern job description

Attracting the Right Candidates

What are the benefits of starting an internship program?


How to Build a Startup Internship Program: Getting Started

Once you have created your job description, the next step is getting the word out!
You should post the position on your own career page to start. Additionally, every college and university has a job-posting portal. Put together a list of schools in your area that you would like to target and post the position with them. Additionally, sites like, and are also great places to get interest. Once posted, you should begin to see candidates applying. Additionally, you can always go one step further and attend a career fair hosted at a school nearby or reach out directly to a contact in career services to help build the relationship.
The more candidates you get, the greater chance of finding the right interns for your program!

Creating a Killer Hiring Plan

You may think that hiring interns is more simple than hiring full time employees. A lot of companies wing it, making up the hiring process as they go along. Doing this however, could land you with sub-par interns and waste a lot of time in the process.
Implementing a formal process for hiring interns is equally important to the process for full time hires. Put a time line in place and assign pieces of the process to the team. A typical timeline should be 4-6 weeks from the time the position is posted to offer stage.

The following tasks need to be assigned

Inbound resume review: A lot of resumes will come in, especially for internships on the sales and marketing side. Reviewing inbound resumes will take a few hours a week at least. This involves reading through the resume to determine if the candidate matches the target profile, if they do not, sending a rejection email. If a candidate is deemed a fit from resume review, passing them along to the next step. This step is typically done by the program owner or a member of the talent team.
Phone Screen: Once candidates are through the resume review, batches should be sent to hiring manager for review. I say batches due to the volume of resumes you will be getting in. Sending them in 1-2 batches/week will save time. The hiring manager for the role should then determine who he/she would like to speak with and reach out to them to schedule a call. The hiring manager should also be sure rejections are sent to any candidates they are not moving forward with.
In-Person Interview: Candidates that pass the phone screen should be invited in for an in person interview, if possible. If the candidate is away at school, Skype interviews will also work. The in person interview is valuable both to gauge the candidates professionalism and to give the candidate a better impression of the company, office environment, and team. The in person interview should be no longer than 2 hours and include a few team members that the intern will be working with. Be sure to send rejections to any candidates that do not pass this round.
Having a process in place and assigning owners to each part of the process is an integral part to making any hire (including interns). Setting expectations up front will save valuable time throughout the search.

Download a Sample Work Plan for Your Intern Search

intern hiring work plan-interactive

The Next Steps

Stay tuned for my next post on interviewing and offering positions to intern candidates, including a list of sample questions and an offer letter template your company can use!
Read the other posts in the “How to Build a Startup Internship” series

Have any questions about writing effective job descriptions or creating a hiring plan? Feel free to ask me in the comments!

Photo by: Dave Crosby

Meghan Maher
Meghan Maher
Senior Talent Manager, Engineering

Meghan Maher is Senior Talent Manager, Engineering, actively recruiting top talent for OpenView and its Portfolio Companies. Her tech background has helped OpenView hire for nearly 20 IT and engineering positions. Meghan began her career at AVID Technical Resources, where she was a Technical Recruiter for two years.
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