Interns can be an incredible resource to small businesses when chosen and trained correctly. They are usually smart, enthusiastic, and eager to assist you in the day-to-day running of the company. Here are ways to build up your internship program.
- Utilize local school programs. Work with the career counseling centers at your local universities and community colleges to locate potential interns. Craft quality job descriptions so the career counselors know what to expect when working with you. Keep in mind that the university will have requirements for the internship so that the student will receive college credit, and you may have to report periodically on the student’s progress. However, once the college advisers see that you are providing a worthwhile internship experience, they may send new interns your way each year.
- Check out career websites, “intern hubs” and other resources. Dedicated websites such as Urban Interns can help you find interns through a database of candidates, or you can post to career sites like CareerMarketplace.com. Don’t forget about social networking. Send out a tweet or post to your Facebook page that your company is looking for interns. You can gather responses from people who you know are already interested in your company—they’re looking for you, after all!
- Be specific. What exactly will the intern be doing? How long will the internship last? How many hours will they be required to put in? How will you evaluate their work? If you are specific from the beginning, you will avoid misunderstandings later on down the road. Your expectations will be clear and the intern will know exactly what you anticipate from their performance.
- Take time to mentor your interns. Plan out projects ahead of time. Be a supportive, present manager who provides guidance and feedback throughout the internship. If your intern enjoys the position and they perform the job well, they may return when they’ve graduated. Less on-the-job training equates to stronger employees who are ready to work.
- Know the laws. According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, certain criteria must be met for an internship to be unpaid. The internship must provide educational training and be for the benefit of the intern, who is not necessarily entitled to a job at the close of the experience. Learn the laws before you hire any interns. Read Internships: To Pay or Not to Pay? for more information.