When Should Employers Post Internship Openings? Intern Program Tips

Updated: 1/29/2019

As you prepare to recruit candidates for your internship program, it’s important to consider when to post internships.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), employers begin recruiting interns an average of eight months in advance of the start date. On average, 23.6 days elapse between the interview and the offer. Employers should allow prospective interns five days to respond to the offer.

It’s not essential to post the position a full eight months in advance, but you do need to allow enough time for recruiting, interviewing, and hiring your intern(s). You also want to land top candidates before they’re hired by the competition. We recommend posting your internship a minimum of four months prior to the intern’s expected start date.

Make sure you give yourself enough time to fully develop the program before posting the internship. When it comes to posting internships, a common employer error is to post openings before they've given much thought to the internship program itself. In fact, in the 12 steps to starting an internship program, posting the position on Internships.com isn't until step 10.

Move through Steps 1-9 first to ensure you know what type of tasks you’ll want to assign to the intern. This helps you write your job description and ensures that you’re hiring the intern who is best-suited for the job.

After posting your internship, wait a week or two before you begin contacting candidates for interviews. You may receive interest from exciting prospects right away, but give yourself time to see what types of candidates you’ll have to choose from.

You'll then sift through submissions, schedule and conduct interviews and second interviews, solicit input from employees who will supervise or work closely with interns, deliberate, and make your final decisions.

Duration of Internships

A related topic is the average internship duration. The answer to this question can vary widely, but the most common internship length is about 10 weeks to three months. This is the duration of an academic quarter or semester.

Some internships last two semesters or even a full year. Others may be designed to match the length of a winter or summer break.

Average Recruiting Cycle

With these guidelines about internship duration and the best time to post an internship in mind, let’s look at the recommended internship recruiting cycle3. For this example, we’ll examine one of the most popular types of internships: a summer internship.


Post summer internship on Internships.com. After two weeks, begin contacting candidates and conducting interviews.


Make offers to summer interns; tie up any loose ends related to your summer internship program plans.


Conduct summer internship orientation; internship begins.


As the internship ends, evaluate summer interns and make employment offers if desired.


Keep in touch with summer interns; begin setting the budget for next year’s summer interns.


Evaluate your internship program. Is there anything you’d like to add or change? Before January rolls around, plan any necessary improvements to the program.


If your planned internship won’t occur in the summer, you can adapt this timeline to any season. The key takeaways are:

  • Plan your internship (including the budget for interns) first, so that you can highlight key responsibilities and benefits in your internship posting.
  • Post the internship for free on Internships.com at least four months before the intern’s anticipated start date.
  • Allow two weeks for candidates to apply, then begin interviewing.
  • After making offers, allow candidates five days to respond.
  • Finalize the hire, and begin reaping the many benefits of having an internship program.

If you’re ready to post your job but unsure how to write a posting, review our series of sample internship descriptions. Use our samples as a template, customize them to fit your internship position, then post the internship on Internships.com to connect with quality applicants.

Want to learn more? Read the following article(s) for additional information:


2018 Internship & Co-op Survey Report - NACE

2017 Recruiting Benchmarks Survey Report - NACE

College Recruiting Cycle: Year-Round Guide to College Recruiting