How to Hire a Summer Intern

Hiring a summer intern might be a great option to increase the productivity of your business without the commitment of hiring a full time employee. Both small business owners and large corporations can benefit from having an intern for the summer, and the intern is also able to gain benefit because it provides them the industry experience that they are looking for.

When you hire an intern, there are several things that you can do to maximize your experience working with them. As an employer, you should be looking for ways to improve their productivity in order to benefit the business, and you should also look for ways to improve their experience with your company. An intern can be a great asset to your business, but it is important that you utilize their help correctly.

Benefits of Hiring a Summer Intern

There are many benefits to hiring a summer intern, and many companies use interns every year. One of the biggest benefits to hiring an intern is the fact that you don’t have any long term commitment, so at the end of the internship you no longer have an obligation to keep the person as an employee.

Internships typically last for 3 to 4 months, which is a good amount of time to see if that person is a good fit for your team. It is essentially a “trial period,” and if you were happy with their work, then you can choose to offer them ongoing employment after the internship is over.

Another reason that internships can be beneficial is because it is a great way to hire extra help during the busy season. Some companies have situations where certain months are busier than others, and hiring an intern can be an effective way to keep up with the additional workload. An intern is much cheaper than paying the costs of hiring someone through a temp agency.

Effective Hiring Techniques

Hiring an intern is similar to hiring any other type of employee. You will want to learn about the person’s qualifications and experience, and also go through the regular hiring process of sharing job expectations and completing interviews. Keep in mind that interns will often have limited work experience because they are usually students, but you can still look at the person’s characteristics and traits to determine if they are the right person for the job.

Be sure that you have a detailed job description put together which outlines the expectations for the internship. That job description can be posted on job boards, and you also might consider reaching out to local colleges and universities. Sharing the internship opportunity with local schools will help to increase the number of applications that you receive, because many of the schools will distribute the information to teachers and students.

Once you begin receiving applications, make sure that you dedicate time to talk with each candidate in order to find the right match for your company. This interviewing process will allow you to identify someone who is willing and eager to learn, and who has the right personality to fit in with your team.

Common Internship Mistake

One of the most common mistakes that will be made with an intern is keeping them on “busy work” projects throughout their entire internship. An intern can be beneficial to get caught up on busy work like filing or organizing, but you should also include other activities that will expand their skill set and make a bigger impact on the bottom line.

Assigning an intern to a bigger project gives them the opportunity to grow, and it can also bring a fresh perspective to your organization. Set the expectations for the project, and then provide the space to allow them to take initiative with the project. You might be surprised to see what they come up with!

Be Clear With Expectations

At the beginning of the internship, it is important to set clear expectations about what will be required during the internship. These expectations help the intern be productive during their time with the company, and it also helps you to identify the types of projects to assign to them while they are working with the company.

Those clear expectations can allow the intern to understand their goals for the internship, and it will help you to work together to create milestones along the way. These steps will make it more likely that both the intern and the other employees in the office will have a positive experience.

Provide Constructive Feedback

Sometimes, employers make the mistake of not providing good feedback to the intern, because the intern is in the office for such a short period of time. Providing good feedback is beneficial for both the intern and the company. When the intern receives positive feedback, they can adjust their skill set accordingly in order to delivery high quality work. In return, the company benefits because the intern is helping the department to improve.

Provide praise for the good things that the intern has done, and also provide tips and suggestions to help the intern improve. Interns are looking for the real-life experience of working for a company, and they are usually open to the feedback in order to help them prepare for their career. It is likely that you will need to spend a little bit of extra time with the intern, in order to help them learn the skills that they need to know and apply changes based on your feedback.

For more insight take a look at a recent seminar I did for a group of women entrepreneurs: 

 Additional Resources:

The Department of Labor provides six criteria to determine whether interns need to be paid under the Fair Labor Standards Act.  These guidelines are heavily based on the internship’s educational merit and the benefits that the company receives.  In lieu of being paid, interns might be able to receive college credit through their educational institution.

Nearly 97 percent of employers plan to hire interns and co-op students in 2014, according to preliminary results of National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE’s) 2014 Internship & Co-op Survey.

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