Are You Ready for an Intern? 5 Things You Need to Consider Before You Hire One

It’s that time of year when businesses start thinking about summer help. Could you use an
intern this summer? Here are several things you need to consider before bringing on your first

5 Things You Need to Know About Hiring an Intern for Your Business

1. Times have changed. If you were an intern before 2000, you may remember interning
as something akin to being a pledge in a fraternity. You did the grunt work for little
recognition and no pay. Times have changed. Interns want valuable experience these
days, not a summer of making copies. They also expect to be paid, and maybe not even
minimum wage. Check with the employment laws in your state or ask anyone from
Conde Nast what they learned about unpaid interns.

2. Interns bring things other employees don’t. Interns can be amazing company
cheerleaders, have a vast following on social media, and bring a new perspective. This
last consideration can be incredibly valuable if you are courting their demographic.

3. Interns come with a cost. In addition to paying them, you are expected to train them or
at least communicate your needs on the projects you’re assigning them to. That means
someone in your business will lose productivity time while they train the intern(s)…at
least initially. Your intern may also not have the long-term success of the company in
mind, especially if they’re “only” summer help. That’s why it’s important to make them
feel part of the bigger picture and outcome to get their best work.

4. Intern programs should have a goal. If you’re going to hire an intern, don’t do so simply
because you need an extra set of hands to cover summer vacations. Have a direct goal
in mind for them. Do you have a special project or research? Can they run point on
something you don’t have the bandwidth to do? Know what it is you want and how you
will measure success.

5. You need a plan. In addition to a goal, you’ll want a plan. Determine the following:

  • How long will the internship be?
  • How many interns do you need?
  • How much will you pay them, and will you work with their college or high school
    to provide credit or hours toward a desired program?
  • How will you recruit?
    Will the program be for internal candidates only (like children and friends or
    family of employees) or open to the public?
  • What requirements are important in the role and what tasks will they be
    responsible for?
  • Does your state have a program that matches interns in a specified field with
    qualified companies? If so, some of the planning may already be completed for
  • Who is your ideal candidate? What skills should they have? How will you
    evaluate them during the program?
  • What’s the screening process? Who will review the applications and who will
    notify the applicants?
  • Is there the possibility for the summer internship to become something more?
  • Who will oversee the training and evaluation once the intern is in place? You’ll
    want to provide consistent, effective feedback so interns will gain valuable work
    experience. You may also need to provide constructive criticism and chart a path
    for growth when they do not meet your expectations.
  • Have you reviewed the labor laws of your state regarding interns?
  • How will you address professional development? Remember interns are with
    you to learn. If you can help them grow into a valuable employee, you are
    contributing to the future workforce even if they don’t become a star for you.
    Your guidance could shape them through their future career.
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