For businesses both large and small, staffing can be a constant challenge. You want to build your staff so that your goals are being met and all tasks covered, but you also want to hire the right people.
This is why many companies have expanded their staff to include interns. When they do so, they discover that interns bring a whole host of benefits to a business. The question is, how do you go about finding talented interns?
Bring in a New Perspective
If your business has been operating with a core team made of (mostly) the same people for a long time, an internship can provide you with a different perspective on your company and the way it goes about achieving its goals. Rather than just assigning your interns tasks, make sure they’re included in meetings and allowed to brainstorm alongside the rest of the team. From marketing approaches to using the latest apps and technologies, you may be surprised at some of the great ideas an intern can bring to the table.
Get More Done
One of the obvious reasons to kick off an internship program at your company is that it can help the team get more done. Interns are creative and energetic — the perfect candidates to knock out some of those “to-do” items that take up so much time. Remember to monitor their work and give them feedback so they know how they’re doing, as well as trying to give them tasks that are appropriate for their skill set. This doesn’t only refer to not giving an intern work that’s too hard; it also means not boring them by continually assigning work that’s too easy.
Mentor the Next Generation of Employees
Companies are constantly on the lookout for talented employees, and internships are an excellent platform through which to groom and train the next generation. These kinds of programs can help you identify core strengths among your interns, foster those strengths, and provide a wellspring of qualified employees that are ready to hit the ground running.
Types of Internships
Another wonderful thing about internships is that they aren’t one-size-fits-all. You can tailor the internship position to fit your company’s needs.
Here are the kinds of internships you’ll see most often:
Summer Internships: These give students a bit of experience (and companies a bit of extra help) over the summer. They’re usually short in duration — from 8-10 weeks.
For-Credit Internships: Under these types of programs, your company can work with a local college or university and arrange for students to take an internship and earn college credits. This gives the student exposure in whatever field he or she is studying, as well as providing you with internship participants that have an interest in your industry.
Paid or Unpaid Internships: This is where internships can get a bit tricky. Some internships are paid (the U.S. Department of Labor requires that interns be paid at least the federal minimum wage), while most are unpaid. The expectation with unpaid internships is that the candidate is getting experience in exchange for work.
The Department of Labor has six requirements to ensure that unpaid internships are set up to be legal and fair, however:
- The intern’s training has to be similar to what they’d receive in an educational environment.
- The intern must receive experience that’s beneficial for them.
- The intern can’t replace your regular employees and has to be closely supervised.
- The employee responsible for training an intern can’t receive an immediate advantage from the intern’s work.
- The intern cannot be guaranteed a job once the internship is over.
- If the internship is unpaid, there has to be a clear understanding of this from the beginning.
Finding Talented Interns
If you feel that creating an internship program would be right for your business, finding talented interns in this digital generation is as easy as going online. There are a variety of websites (Internships.com, College.monster.com) that specialize in internships, or you could post on a site like Craigslist. Also, work with the career development office at nearby colleges, as well as posting on intra-college job boards.
Once you get your program up and running, you’ll find that interns bring just as much to your company as they receive in training and experience.