How to Hire Interns at Your Business—and Why You Should
By: Kelly Spors
Small-business owners often overlook an effective way to bring new talent and expertise into their business: Hiring interns.
The idea behind internships is to give young adults — often high school or college students — the chance to gain professional skills and career experience through a short stint working for a business. But internships also offer several benefits for businesses, including:
Help on key projects.
An intern can perform work that on-staff employees don't have the time for.
Fresh perspective and expertise.
A newly educated young adult may have skills you don’t have in-house, such as website building, social-media marketing or graphic design. You can hire an intern to handle tasks that you need help with that don’t overlap with your current staff’s expertise.
Trial work period.
If you’re thinking of a hiring a new employee in the near future, an internship can be a good way to test out a young prospect. “You’ll get to see their skills and work ethic as an intern — and might choose to bring them on as a paid employee down the line,” writes the organization YEC Women on Forbes.
Indeed, many of today’s growing entrepreneurial companies, including TOMS, hired many interns in their early days and continue to do so today.
While taking on interns can be a great way to bring in temporary help at a low cost, there are some rules and guidelines to keep in mind before you do. Here are some tips for making an internship work:
Consider your needs first.
Before you find an intern, consider what kind of skills and personality would be most beneficial to your business. Similar to how you would look for a new employee, it’s important to make sure you find the right fit for an intern.
Look in the right places.
Some websites, including InternMatch and InternQueen, help companies find prospective interns. But you may also contact departments at local colleges and universities to find students that may be open to interning over the summer months.
An important part of the internship experience is on-the-job learning. Make sure you can provide that to your interns. Give them an orientation and introduce them to your employees, so they feel part of the team and get a true experience working for your business.
Give them meaningful work.
Interns want to gain valuable work skills and experience — so don’t bury them in mindless grunt work. Make sure to give them experience that will look good on their resume.
Most students will look for internships during their summer break, which can vary by region and school. Find out when students in your community get out of school, then start your search about a month in advance, if possible, so you have time to find and interview the best candidates.
Remember that some students, especially college seniors, may be looking for internships during the school year, so stay open to bringing in interns even outside of the standard summer break window.
About the Author
Kelly Spors is a freelance writer and editor based in Minneapolis. She previously worked as a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal, covering small business and entrepreneurship.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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