The State of Campus Recruiting

    Recruiting with Fewer Resources

    During this March 2023 session, panelists covered how teams with limited resources can use experiential recruiting to creatively attract early-career talent, while providing students with valuable work experience. Read the key takeaways from the session here.

    About our panelists:






    Alison Keefe

    Director of Emerging Talent at Smith+Nephew



    Debra Manenté, M.Ed., CPRW

    Associate Director of the Career Success Center, Western Connecticut State University

    About the State of Campus Recruiting:

    Each quarter, Parker Dewey brings together corporate leaders, universities and organizations supporting students, and all those interested in addressing the challenges of college-to-career. We touch on hot topics facing institutions and recruiters, and welcome questions in advance from our audience members.


    Access the full replay


    The State of Campus Recruiting: Spring 2023

    Recruiting with Fewer Resources

    With the first quarter of 2023 wrapped up, it’s already time to dig into what’s working, what’s not, and start looking forward to next fall when it comes to early-career recruiting. 

     But this year is different: layoffs continue to reverberate through the tech sector, budgets are being cut, and with so many open roles, many recruiters are being asked to do a lot more with fewer resources.

    This was the topic of this quarter’s edition of The State of Campus Recruiting. Against the backdrop of doing less with more, panelists addressed questions like:

    • So how do you reach more students when your team is lean?
    • What are other teams doing to make every dollar stretch further? 
    • When time is limited and attention is scarce, what do you do to cut through the noise and stand out to high potential talent?

    This session’s panelists include:

    • Debra (Debbie) Mallick Manenté, M.Ed., CPRW. Debra is the Associate Director of Western Connecticut State University's Career Success Center, where she's dedicated to helping students and alumni achieve their career aspirations. With over 20 years of career coaching experience in higher education, she strongly advocates Micro-Internships as an effective way of bridging the gap between talented individuals and potential employers.
    • Alison Keefe, Director of Emerging Talent at medical technology company Smith+Nephew. With decades of experience and development knowledge, she assists Smith+Nephew with setting global expectations, helping candidates find the right opportunities, and developing talent as they mature. Alison has championed Micro-Internships as a tool for full-time hiring.
    • Jeffrey Moss, Founder and CEO of Parker Dewey and moderator of this discussion. 

    Read on for insights from our discussion, or access the webinar replay above.


    Creative strategies for recruiting interns with limited resources

    Recruiting interns can be a daunting task, especially with limited resources. However, according to Alison, building relationships with student clubs is an effective and cost-efficient way to engage with potential candidates. Alison explains, "We partner quite a bit with school clubs. That's one of the best ways to add a minimal price to get to the students we are interested in and network with the student clubs." 

    By aligning company values with students' personal goals, employers can educate students about the importance of values when considering an internship. As Alison explains, "We built real relationships with the student clubs to have an opportunity to educate the students. I want them to understand that aligning with your company or common values is important." 

    Meanwhile, Micro-Internships offer valuable experience that can be done both in-person or remotely, depending on the student's preference. As Debbie also notes, "Many students tell me that they want the old-fashioned way; they want to go and work in person. Other students say they would rather do it in their homes and still get that valuable experience." 

    By embracing such opportunities, companies can ensure that they get the best out of their internship programs. This strategy is part of a culture change, as Debbie describes: "They have these opportunities at their fingertips, and this is a culture that we're building. It's only been two years now they're slowly learning about it, and I'm talking about it everywhere I go when I'm walking on campus."


    Improving hiring outcomes for students and companies through innovative solutions

    Engaging students in career exploration events is critical to improving hiring outcomes, according to panelists. Debbie notes that students often wait until after graduation to seek out opportunities, which leads to anxiety and missed chances. As Debbie explains, "Students now have much anxiety, and they don't reach out until they need to reach out, and usually, that's after graduation. We try to encourage them as soon as they come in here, as soon as they're an accepted student, we're telling them about internships, about getting experience about the route they think they might want to pursue." 

    To make recruiting efforts more interesting and interactive, Jeffrey suggests providing students with unique information that they cannot find through an online search. "[Students don’t want] career exploration events where they get the same information they can Google. They want something different," he adds. Additionally, Alison highlights the importance of offering a variety of opportunities for students to learn about companies and gain experience, such as internships, national conferences, and online platforms like Parker Dewey. 

    To build strong relationships with university partners, companies need to be open to creative and innovative ways of engaging students and providing them with opportunities to learn and grow.


    How university career centers can connect with students and employers with fewer resources

    "Fun" is the keyword that guides the Success Center's strategy for engaging faculty and staff in promoting applied and experiential learning. The move of Western Connecticut State University's Success Center to academic affairs has resulted in a change in faculty engagement, with more attendance at workshops and meetings.

    Despite fewer resources than larger schools, the Center is working towards a cultural shift that aims to better prepare students for the job market. Open houses and alumni events are some of the activities that the Center uses to involve faculty and staff, and they also provide mini-workshops and share resources during these events, as described by Debbie: "We try to make it fun every semester. We have the faculty and staff open house so people can come into our office daily, play games, share resources with them, and do mini-workshops." 

    Ultimately, the Center's goal is to establish connections with employers to ensure that graduates are work-ready, as Debbie explains: "I want the employer to know that our students are prepared and ready to hit the ground running and work for them."


    Building relationships remotely and driving diversity in recruiting

    Alison shares how Smith+Nephew uses Micro-Internships and partnerships with different institutions to engage and offer opportunities to students. She also highlights how the company prioritizes making the recruitment process inclusive and comfortable for students from different backgrounds. As she explains, "When we think about the short-term discrete projects that are remote, they're not meant to replace the ten-week on-site summer internship or be a substitute for the full-time on-site role. It's intended to be just another way to engage, access, and build relationships with students.”

    Companies that prioritize diversity benefit from a more robust company culture and better financial outcomes. To achieve this, it is essential to make the recruitment process inclusive and comfortable for students from diverse backgrounds. Building strong relationships through small projects and partnerships can also help engage and offer opportunities to a wider range of students.

    Panelists also note that Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) can be leveraged to build relationships with students from diverse backgrounds, help companies get extra hands on, and create pathways into the workforce for students. 


    Reaching students beyond the career fair, without overextending your resources

    Micro-Internships are emerging as a promising alternative to traditional career fairs, offering companies the opportunity to build real relationships with students while also providing students with meaningful work experience. Unlike career fairs, Micro-Internships allow students to showcase their skills and abilities in a more practical and hands-on way.

    Alison, who has successfully used Micro-Internships to engage with students, explains, "I'm always trying to think creatively and think about what's in it for the students, and that's how I make some decisions and think about how we can interact with students in a creative, unique way, cost-effectively time that is a win-win again for everyone."

    In contrast, some recruiters and employers remain hesitant about the effectiveness of virtual events and the limitations of body language and confidence assessment. Debbie, an advocate of innovating the hiring process, believes that "as technology continues to change and develop and upgrade, [experiential recruiting] is the future, if you're not on board with what's happening you're going to be left behind."

    While virtual events may provide more flexibility, the benefits of Micro-Internships in terms of building relationships with students and providing meaningful work experience are difficult to ignore. Jeffrey, who advocates for posting projects at least 24 hours before they start, highlights the importance of offering students opportunities to showcase their skills and gain valuable experience: "It's not just about meeting people, it's about doing work."


    In conclusion

    While it can be challenging to recruit with fewer resources, there are cost-effective and creative ways to engage with potential candidates and build strong relationships with business partners. By adopting a culture of innovation and staying open to new approaches, recruiters can achieve success even with limited resources. Experiential recruiting tactics like Micro-Internships offer a unique and effective way for companies to engage with students and provide them with valuable work experience. 

    By thinking outside of the box and leveraging experiential recruiting, employers can effectively reach top talent—without using the same amount of resources traditional recruiting demands.