HR troubles

Have you heard the one about the startup that was so pathetic it couldn’t even hire an intern?

Yeah, well, back off. Hiring an intern is harder than it sounds. We tried everything we could think of — spent approximately 30 hours of time – and struck out miserably.

I emailed all the college newspapers within 300 miles. I called journalism professors. I emailed students I knew at VCU, UVA, UNC, William and Mary and JMU, VaTech, Randolph Macon. I posted the position several times on Craigslist.

Four students applied. None wanted the job. One student told me he wanted to get paid. We thought we could get a free intern, so at first I was hesitant. Then I acquiesced, I sweetened the deal. Then he told me he’d decided to go work in Charleston. One last summer hurrah, he said.

So what did I do wrong?

Heather Tyler, a staffing consultant with Techead, said that advertising the position as UNPAID probably wasn’t the brightest move.


Nobody wants to work for free, even if it helps advance their careers, Tyler said.

“So many folks put themself through school now. That’s a big piece of it.”

When I talked to Tyler more about my efforts to promote the position, she asked if I used exciting language to describe the position – something that will be sure to grab peoples’ attention. She also suggested the job boards Monster and Careerbuilder, but warned that they can get expensive.

Tyler also asked if I did any networking, which she said is huge for this sort of position.

NOPE. Strike two.

But I’m a quick learner. And we haven’t given up. We’ve increased the pay and are now looking for a longer-term solution for our reporting needs than just a summer intern. Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise.

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