Hiring an intern for the summer can be a useful way to add temporary help during the vacation season, and a good way to find potential employees for the future. If you haven’t looked for an intern before, here are a few thoughts to get you started.
Planning and Hiring
Time taken to plan and assess your hiring needs is time well spent. Hiring the wrong intern or failing to provide the initial support needed to get a new hire up to speed could create problems you don’t need.
- Determine your needs and consider how an intern can help. What talents or skills do you need? What type of student would perform best in your work environment?
- Find out why your intern candidates are looking for an internship. Do they want real business experience? What type of work do they hope to do? Are they looking to acquire some specific experience for a targeted job search after graduation? Are they willing to undertake some of the more mundane tasks that your business requires?
- Who will be responsible for training and supervising the intern? Investing the time to explain job duties and actively educate and train a new person will create extra work for someone. Do you have the resources and time to mentor a student who might have little or no business background?
- Have a written job description for the candidate(s) to review. Make clear what the duties will encompass and how you plan to pay your intern(s). State your expectations on office hours, vacation days with or without pay, dress code, internet use during the work day and other issues. Don’t assume that office etiquette and business conduct is something that everyone understands.
- Establish who will mentor the intern and let your other employees know how you plan to integrate the new intern into the workplace.
If you hope to attract good people and want interns to take their job commitment seriously, you should be willing to pay them a reasonable hourly rate. Depending on regional living costs and other issues, average hourly pay rates are in the $15-$20 range. Some businesses might believe that the experience and learning opportunity they provide interns are payment enough, but it is wise to find out what the Department of Labor has to say on the subject.
According to current labor laws, unpaid interns cannot work on tasks that contribute to a company’s operations – so that rules out administration duties and handling correspondence. It is important that you understand the applicable labor laws in the state where you do business. Many of the current labor laws governing employees are applicable to summer interns you hire. Interns are protected by workplace health and safety laws, and it’s your responsibility to make sure they understand your company’s health and safety guidelines.
Finding an Intern
Use your website, your employees, and your networking contacts to get the word out. Post your intern position at online job sites and get in touch with local high schools, community colleges, and universities. Many colleges have well-organized efforts to match candidates with appropriate internships. Additionally, you can make use of the Labor Department’s Summer Jobs Bank (http://www.dol.gov/summerjobs/Employers.htm), a presidential initiative to help young people find employment and internships.
Intern programs give businesses a chance to identify good candidates for full-time positions. In a 2012 survey, more than one-third of the small businesses polled ended up hiring their interns to fill permanent job slots.