Need an intern on a budget? 😬 This is what I did!

Disclaimer: I am not encouraging in any way, anybody, to take advantage of the work placement system in order to get cheap help. If you can afford to pay your intern, please do!

I believe there are entrepreneurs out there who can be great mentors and have something valuable to offer to students. If you are one of them and on a budget, let me share with you a few tips on making a successful intern recrutement. If you are not sure but find it appealing to recruit an intern, remember that a work placement should bring a lot to the students: helping clarify their career goals, giving them an insight into the way startups operate, the challenges they face, increasing their skills and knowledge, providing networking opportunities. I actually feel a great pressure in ensuring these for all my interns and encourage you to do the same. It's all about sharing, really, seriously, be responsible.

This is how I did!


I researched

In the UK, if you cannot afford to pay an intern, you can offer a work placement that must comply with certain rules for the intern not to be entitled to the National Minimum Wage (NMW) or National Living Wage (NLW). The student must be working as a required part of a UK-based further or higher education course and the placement should not exceed one year. My two cents on this: agree for the terms in writing, if you're in any doubt, you could seek further advice from the student careers service, they often have templates. Also, it is not compulsory but I strongly recommend to cover your intern travel and lunch expenses. 


I wrote a nice ad!

Your ad is like a window to your business. Think about it and write a nice, well-written, good-looking ad. As an applicant I refused to apply to jobs just because the ad was written entirely in caps (yes, I saw that and it was a big company, not Chanel, the other one...) or because the copy-writing was horrendous (and here again big company). I am sorry it may sound picky but these kind of ads just show that your company is not human and detail-oriented enough for me. That’s a big no!

On the other side of the screen, I remember when I advertised for the first time. What a nightmare! I received tons of emails and CVs. Irrelevant! It amazed me to notice how many applicants did not even read the ad. I thought about it and used that trick I saw on Tinder… I asked at the end of the ad to answer a simple question when applying. So helpful! It made it very easy to discard anyone who didn’t pay proper attention!

I went a step further and now use this trick so the question actually helps me pick a pool of the best applicants. For instance, I ask to name the company's 3 main competitors on a specific market or to pitch a business idea that they would love to develop, etc. It gives me great insight into the candidate and help me prepare for the interview.

As  for the structure of the ad, I usually describe the following topics in the following order:

  • company (purpose, current challenges, context of the mission)
  • mission (main contents and what it will bring to the candidate)
  • ideal candidate (must-have and nice-to-have)
  • practicalities (starting date, working hours, length, location)
  • application process (I ask for a brief email and insert that magic Tinder sentence!)
  • contact details (if applicable)

I make sure the ad fits on a A4 page, which I save in a .pdf format so I can also post it on social media or send it over by email as an attachement to a few contacts that may help.


I posted it somewhere nice and free!

If you have a few pounds to spare you can go on LinkedIn, create a page for your company and post your ad. I think it may be quite efficient but I never did it. If you are on budget, like me, you may consider these free options that worked like  wonder for me!



Remember, you are looking for students! The best places to start are universities and if, like me, you live in London, you are lucky to have some of the best universities in the world next door! Most of them have online platforms where you can register an account to post opportunities.

King’s College platform is used by students and recent alumni across King's, with an average of 1,200 users per day accessing the vacancy board.

UCL runs a Summer Internships Scheme and a Global Internships Programme. Remember the .pdf version of your ad? It will be just what you need to write to the contacts listed on their website.

University of Westminster's career hub is like LSE's but nicer for entrepreneurs on a budget, LSE won't advertise unpaid opportunities unless they are with charity, voluntary organisation, associated fundraising body or statutory body.

Here again, you will need that .pdf to recruit a student for Middlesex University as they don't have an online platform. They invite you to email to promote your work placement to their community.


Job boards

Students are on basic job boards too! 

Angel List of course! That's the job board to be to advertise any position to the startup world.

Indeed is a good option too but you may get a lot of irrelevant applications (remember what I said earlier) but out of the blue, like that, you may also well receive a nice email with an interesting CV from an even nicer UCL student...


What about you? Any tips to share on this topic? Would love to read your thoughts on this.


Disclaimer (again, just in case you forgot): I am not encouraging in any way, anybody, to take advantage of the work placement system in order to get cheap help. If you can afford to pay your interns, please do! And be nice to them!