Why Entry-Level Tech Talent Turns Down Internships & Job Opportunities

Despite the frigid temperatures in New England this past week, spring has officially kicked off! That means college students and hiring companies are thinking summer internships. We all know how important internships can be for students looking to jumpstart their careers, but they are also big business for hiring companies.

That is especially true for companies looking to fill internships for technical talent. Internships are vital for companies looking to build a pipeline of technical talent amid a shortage. By 2018 there will be 5.3 million open tech jobs in the US, with only 4.5 million developers to fill them.

To help out companies looking to build strong entry-level talent pipelines for technical positions, we decided to analyze the reasons Door of Clubs members opted out of recruiter’s messages regarding internship and entry-level opportunities of the technical variety over the last year.

Specifically, we looked at 500 responses from Door of Clubs users (all currently college students about to enter the workforce). Here’s what we found.

“I am very interested in future opportunities from this company.”

Already have a position

When we analyzed the results we weren’t surprised to find that the number one reason technical talent was opting out of potential opportunities was that they already had another position lined up (31%).

In some ways, the apartment rental market has become a good analogy for the technical hiring market. The demand for technical talent has so vastly outpaced the supply that you can often be looking at a promising candidate’s profile as that candidate is singing a contract with their new employer.

Not so different than checking out a promising rental listing only to realize that someone has just signed a lease for it. While we’re constantly prompting our members to update their job or internship status, technical job opportunities are flying so fast and furious it’s nearly impossible to have it updated in real-time.

This also makes the decision process on the potential interns or entry level employees end difficult as well. It was pretty common to see in qualitative feedback from our members that some new opportunities were leading college students to question their decision to accept previous offers.

However, we don’t see a lot of folks backing out of accepted positions. Instead, we often see students taking the time to keep the door slightly open for future opportunities at a company they had had to pass up because of previous commitments. As one student passed along in opting out of an opportunity “I am very interested in future opportunities from this company.”

“I’m not interested in working at the White House.”

Not Interested in Role

While students are being presented with many interesting positions there are certainly some technical opportunities that college students are simply not interested in (28%). Politics aside, it was hard to believe one student said “I’m not interested in working at the White House,” when opting out of a conversation with a technical recruiter from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (and this was for the previous administration!).

Given these opportunities are being presented to qualified and likely interested students (based on Door of Clubs targeting tools) this is an interesting subset of messaging opt-outs to analyze. In general, not being interested in a position falls into one of three categories:

  1. Not being in the discipline of engineering or programing that the candidate wants to dive into as they look to build a career path.
  2. The potential opportunities discussed in the message from the recruiter simply didn’t catch their eye or the student didn’t have an interest in working at the company.
  3. They are looking for compensation (no free internship) or more compensation (“did you see what Facebook pays interns!”)

How can employers and recruiters combat these issues? It’s not an easy fix with the first problem. With it being a jobseeker market, students can certainly be somewhat picky in choosing the types of technical roles they’re looking to jump into. Many students are smartly looking to jump into hot categories in the technical market to kickstart lucrative career track. Some of these in demand roles from entry-level job-seekers include data science and data administration, as well as application development.

On the other hand, specialized role descriptions can also throw some students off. For instance, if they don’t have previous real-world experience in a certain segment of the market, many students can feel that their studies don’t prepare them well for a specialized sector or role described by a recruiter. “I am not very specialized in cyber security software,” said one student.

This is a good segue into how to address job opportunities not catching the candidate’s eye or being perceived differently than the recruiter may think. Creating a compelling job description can be extremely difficult. After all, if students are turning down the White House, they probably aren’t afraid to turn down your opportunity.

One way to avoid students eyes glazing over is cutting down the length of job descriptions. Some of the messages and job postings we see from recruiters in the current job market have turned into novellas. While the motivation behind creating these detailed descriptions comes from a desire to stand out, they really may be having the opposite impact on jobseekers.

There is also seems to be growing apprehension among students entering the workforce that have been seemingly ‘ghosted’ by hiring companies after what they believe are positive initial chats or formal interviews. This, of course, is in addition to burnout from applying to positions they are interested in without ever hearing back. One thought to combat that may be signaling an employer’s call to action within job postings, descriptions and recruiter messaging. Something along the lines of “All applicants will be notified upon the position being filled,” can go a long way.

Finally, if you haven’t checked where your current intern or entry-level salary baselines compare with industry averages in awhile, it’s probably time to take another look. With technology titans and venture-backed startups often willing to overpay for technical, entry-level and intern talent, you may be getting priced out of recruiting top talent.

“I’m not interested in Erie, Pennsylvania.”


Location, location, location. Again, not a huge surprise that the location of a position is a major reason why technical talent is opting out of potential opportunities (18%).

As one student summed it up, “I’m not interested in Erie, Pennsylvania.” Note, they didn’t say they’re not interested in working in Erie, Pennsylvania or the position there. They’re simply not interested in the area.

Again, this ties back to it being a jobseeker’s market and technical talent entering the workforce can afford to check off the boxes of potential opportunities. Location is certainly one of those boxes they’re looking to check.

Students who said job location was the issue for opting out of conversations often noted they were most interested in positions in New York City or California. It’s safe to say that most technical talent about to hit the job market is looking to live in cities. 2014 marked the first time since the 1920’s that population growth in cities outpaced growth outside of cities. That trend should continue.

While this creates a problem for you if your headquarters are located in Erie, Pennsylvania there are ways to address a lack of urbanization. Previous research has found that incentivizing company referrals, digitizing a hiring brand’s image, creating a compelling employee value proposition and creating strong college campus recruiting programs can go a long way.

In addition, recruiters shouldn’t overlook nearby. Many students simply can’t afford to move a big distance if it’s an internship role and they’re not receiving a Google or Facebook salary. Nearby means both where students are enrolled in college and where they are originally from (i.e. still living with their parents in many cases).

Therefore, it’s important for hiring companies outside of urban areas to build strong relationships with both local universities and high schools. Administrators at the latter can often give you an idea who their recent technical graduates were and where they are pursuing technical degrees — which could give you a hint if they may be returning for the summer.

What are some of the reasons you’ve lost out on entry-level technical talent as a recruiter? We’d love to hear your thoughts or your own tips on creating technical talent pipeline from the ground-up!

If you’re interested in creating your own targeted technical pipelines through thousands of student clubs, email info@doorofclubs.com today!