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How to Hire an Intern

With the tight job market that we live in today, internships have been rapidly becoming a

prerequisite for countless full-time positions. With the vast number of students looking for work, there are endless opportunities to obtain an intern for your own business. With that being said, if you are thinking about hiring an intern, then you may be wondering how you go about doing so. The process of hiring an intern is a bit different from hiring a regular employee. To give you more insight on how to go about this, here are some helpful guidelines on hiring an intern and getting them acclimated into your business rhythm.

Foundational Decisions

Before making any rash decisions, really take the time to determine if an intern is the best option for your business to grow and thrive. Is the work that needs to be completed something that is long term? Is it a small, one-time task that a freelancer could do easily instead? Can you offer interns excellent mentorship and experience that will help them land other full-time jobs when they graduate? These are all questions you need to ask yourself before jumping into an internship program.

Now, let’s say that after careful evaluation, you ultimately decide that hiring an intern is what your business needs right now. Once the decision is made, then you can move on to the next step, which is finding a qualified intern.

Intern Selection Phase

Once you know for sure and have your mind set on bringing an intern into your business, then the next step is to find one that will work well. This is probably going to be the hardest part because there are tons of interns to choose from, who may all want the chance to work for you to gain that life experience. The best thing you can do is narrow down your candidates by establishing the duties, responsibilities, and the requirements you set for someone to be considered. Coming up with the final job description may take some time, but go through it thoroughly so you can ensure that you get the best person on your team in the end.

You may be wondering where to even find an intern in the first place. You can always ask a friend or family member if they know of someone who is looking, but your best bet would be to seek candidates at technical schools and colleges. Talk to some local educational establishments to see if they have any students who are eligible to be interns. Another option you can partake in is Handshake, which is a website that many American Universities use to give students job opportunities. You can have free access to tons of potential interns when signing up for this site, but keep in mind that it could take a couple weeks for you to get approved in the system.

Intern Onboarding

Onboarding is something that you cannot skip under any circumstances if you truly want your business to have the best and most trained crew, and yes, that includes interns. If or when you get to this point, you should have a solid foundation for your intern to begin working for you and bringing value to the table. For starters, treat them as you would any other employee coming on board. Be welcoming, treat them with respect, and confirm that they have everything they need to do their job efficiently.

Even if you have the best set up for them, it is also critical to create a training process so you can be prepared on what you need to teach and mentor them during their first couple weeks before they get settled in. The more organized you are, the better. Other things you should consider in your onboarding plans include:

  • Contacting the intern before their first day for the confirmation of the date, time, and documentation they need to bring upon arrival. It might also be good to reassure them that you are looking forward to them starting.

  • When it comes to onboarding, assigning a mentor is something that you should do for everyone, even interns. Talk to the designated mentor and ensure that they are ready, prepared, and have everything they need to help the intern during the first day. Things the mentor should be tasked with include showing the intern around the office, introducing them to their coworkers, going over job duties, and potentially assigning the first tasks.

  • There is nothing worse than asking your intern to do their first task, but their computers are not set up correctly yet. Make sure that your IT department or person is ready to set them up in your business’s system, including email and installing other necessary software for them to get started.

  • Paperwork can take up a lot of time, so as a manager, make sure to fill in a schedule slot to focus on that. Some of the documentation you cannot forget to do include human resources and payroll information, especially if you are paying them.

To Pay, Or Not to Pay

Before you pull the trigger on hiring an intern, think about if you are going to pay them or not. With this, you also have to consider the law as well. Just because they are an intern does not mean they are ultimately not required to be paid for their time and services they provide you. For example, the Federal Labor Standards Act (FSLA) states when and if an intern needs to be compensated for their work.

It boils down to who gets the higher net gain. If the intern you hire will be gaining skills and opportunities from you, and you do not benefit from their work, then you do not have to pay them. For example, if you hire them just so you can help them obtain experience and become prepared for the workforce, then the law says you do not need to compensate. If you are going to be gaining sales, revenue and value to your company by hiring them, then you are required to pay your interns at least the minimum wage, even if you plan to offer college credit for their time with you.

It is no secret that interns gain an immense deal of experience and benefits from working at a company within their favorable field they are studying for. You might not be required to pay your interns, but keep in mind having a paid internship might help you attract and keep high performers.

If you are a business owner who needs an extra helping hand, or merely wants to assist a student on earning credits so they can graduate, then taking on an intern could be the best route for your goals. Hiring an intern is a fantastic way to get talented students working for you without having to make the same commitments as a standard full or part-time employee. Even though hiring an intern sounds simple, there are a lot of steps and precautions to take before making that decision. When you decide to embark on the intern train, it is highly suggested you invest in the Intern Checklist, which is a significant part of the free HR Toolkit. Within this tool, you can have access to everything you need to ensure that you have the necessary guidance to bring an intern on board from start to finish.

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