How to Find an Intern for Your Private Practice

Are you looking to grow your practice? Are you looking for someone with a specific skill set to help you with an intermediate-term project? Or maybe you're looking to serve as a mentor for the next generation of nutrition professionals. If any of these situations sound like they apply to you, you may want to think about onboarding an intern. 

Internships are a great way for students to gain experience, network and strengthen graduate or professional school applications. Your relationship with your intern should be symbiotic; they should gain experience and skills, and receive guidance. Meanwhile, you get an enthusiastic new team member, and an opportunity to show someone the ropes! 

Think about compensation

There are some important considerations for having an intern join your practice. First, you'll need to familiarize yourself with local regulations regarding compensation. Some internships are unpaid, while others provide a stipend or other type of compensation. Familiarize yourself with the local minimum wage, as well as any scheduled increases in your district. For example, New York has a minimum wage schedule that breaks down increases by company size.  

Write the job posting

I’ve you’ve decided you want an intern and have decided the type of compensation you can provide, it's time to craft a job posting. Make sure to specify:

  • Timeline: Is this internship open-ended, for an academic period, for the summer, or for some other fixed-term?
  • Job tasks: What specific role do you plan to have this intern fill? What skills and training will be necessary for the day-to-day tasks assigned to the intern? What training will you be able to provide, and what skills do you expect them to have when they walk in the door?
  • Academic level, field: Do you want graduate students or undergrads? Perhaps you'll also consider recent graduates. It's important to consider the job tasks when selecting the academic level of your intern.
  • Schedule: How many hours do you want your intern to contribute? Be realistic: during the academic year, an intern will likely only be available on a part-time basis. When interviewing candidates for your internship, be sure to talk about their schedule and availability.
  • Closing date: when do you want your intern to start? Back track from that date and set a firm deadline to make sure you don't receive applications after you've filled the position. You can always extend if you need more time. 

Reach the right candidates

With your freshly-crafted position description in hand, you're ready to begin publicizing the opening. Most colleges and universities have a career center that keeps a job database that is searchable by job function, field, and academic level. Check the websites of local institutions to see how to best go about getting your position included. They may also invite you to an on-campus or virtual career and internship fair! You may also wish to reach out directly to academic departments to advertise your posting. There may be department-wide newsletters or emails that are circulated that will help you target candidates with a specific background. You might want to consider students of:

  • Nutrition
  • Public health
  • Biology
  • Pre-medical studies

Don’t just stop at colleges and universities: social media is a powerful tool. Post a link to your job posting (a PDF is fine!) to your website, or share information about it on social media. Invite applicants to submit a resume and cover letter via email or link to an application form. Additionally, some websites, such as LinkedIn, offer the option to post a job for a specifically-targeted audience.  

The interview process

Once you've received applications, you're ready to move forward with the interview and on-boarding process. Check out this collection of good interview questions. Make sure to go for a good mix of work-related and personality-related questions. You may also wish to develop a mentoring process for your new internship program. Check back soon for tips on that!

Do you have interns at your practice? Comment below with how you found them and what you enjoy about working with interns!