Published May 29, 2010

4 Tips for Hiring and Managing Interns

Creating an internship program can be a smart decision for any small business owner. It shows your dedication to helping train young and eager workers, and you can get the benefit of educated talent helping your company. In addition, a job internship could result in a new, qualified future permanent employee for you as well.

  • Forming a Job Internship Program

    To set up a summer internship program, find local universities, colleges, and community colleges and talk to their internship office. A key point to know about hiring interns: summer interns are NOT meant to be a source of free labor, according to the U.S. Labor Dept. Technically, you are providing training to a summer intern, and "must derive no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern." Make sure your job internship program does not replace or displace any actual employee's job.

    When you design your job internship, you may choose to hire an intern for a small stipend, college credit, or a combination of both.

  • Hire a Summer Intern Just Like Any Other Employee

    You can interview potential summer intern candidates just like any potential employee. Try to get to know your intern as best you can, and determine whether he or she will be a good fit in your office.

  • Train and Supervise Summer Interns

    Interns must be trained and supervised. Do not expect that an intern will know how to perform assigned tasks or be familiar with office or production procedure. Remember, the main point of hiring a summer intern is to provide training and experience.

    See to it that your intern has a training period before actually performing any work. Having a specific intern job description with written expected duties beforehand will make this process easier. Then, be sure that your intern has someone to whom he or she will report. It may be you, the business owner, or a qualified and experienced staff manager. The better mentoring a summer intern can get, the more he or she will learn, and in turn, the more benefits your company will receive.

  • Assign Meaningful Work to a Job Internship

    A job internship is not meant to be a 'gofer.' Many businesses fail to recognize the training opportunities for an intern and relegate a summer intern to performing insignificant tasks, such as filing, sorting mail, or even running simple errands.

    Give your summer interns meaningful work that will benefit both the intern and your company. Train management majors in dealing with office administration. Place accounting majors in the hands of your accounting supervisor. One of the best things you can do for a summer intern is assign one or more projects. It could be a research project or using computer software skills to design a database.

    Remember that a job internship breeds loyalty toward your company. Your summer intern could wind up working for you in the future or even become a valuable contact in another company. Treat and train your interns well, and your company will benefit in the end.