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A small business blog featuring tips to help entrepreneurs succeed in the small business world. Topics include family business, human resources, marketing, money, networking, operations, ownership, startup, taxes and technology.
Consider This When Hiring an Intern

Today is the first official day of summer (don’t we all wish we still had a summer vacation). And, with classes temporarily out of session, college students are looking for summer internships. For them, it is an opportunity to learn more about the business they are hoping to get into after graduation, without a long-term commitment.

For you, it is a chance to test things out and see if you would be willing to hire this student for a full-time, long-term position when he graduates. You also get the opportunity to pass on what you know about “the business” and provide a hands on education that a college course won’t necessarily provide. Not to mention the fact that hiring an intern has the added perk of an extra set of hands around the office at no or very little cost to you.

Before you hire an intern, however, keep the following in mind:

Know What You’re Looking For
Remember, those that apply for an internship with your business are not going to be as qualified as anyone you would be interviewing for a full-time position, so don’t set your expectations so high that no one can meet them. Sets your sights on someone who is ambitious, committed, eager, and diligent. You need someone who is socially capable and can take constructive criticism and learn from it.

Have a Plan
Before you even consider hiring an intern, you need to set out exactly what the interns tasks will be. Don’t hire an intern just for the sake of doing so and expect her to find something to do all day. Set goals (both productive and educational) for the intern during the three months (or more) they are with your business, as well as establishing a list of tasks and projects she will work on. Which reminds me, you also need to present a specific end-date for the internship so that both you and the intern know how long you have to reach those goals.

Additionally, establish who will be the intern’s direct supervisor, whether it is you or someone else in the company, so that she is fully aware of who she needs to go to if she has any problems or questions. Understand that, whoever that person is, they will need to be more available to the intern than any of the other employees. If everyone in your company is swamped and wouldn’t be able to spare enough time to sufficiently educate an intern, then you may want to reconsider hiring one.

Don’t Waste Time
As we have established, internships are short, in the grand scheme of things. Don’t waste time by sitting back and waiting for the intern to iron out issues on his own. Instead, when an obstacle presents itself, discuss it immediately and help the intern discover the solution. Whether the issue be the interns performance or something out of his control, you are throwing away precious learning time if you don’t intervene as soon as possible.

One way to really stay on top of things is to assess the interns ability to perform a task you are considering for her, before she even gets it. What are her strengths, what are her weaknesses? Obviously, you want to give her tasks that she can learn from, which usually means a challenge of some sort. It that regard, determine if it is a challenge she can meet on his own or if it will require teamwork to produce the best learning experience. No one ever said interns had to work on their own.

Set time goals for each task. Where should he be on it after a day? A week? If he is not meeting those goals, consider teaming him up with someone or passing the task on to someone else, giving him something new to work on. Just always remember to explain your reasoning, otherwise your intern will learn nothing from the experience.

Keep in mind that the goal of this experience is not for your benefit as much as it is for the intern. She has shown an interest in your business, why not do everything you can to share it with her.

• Hiring a Summer Intern

Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Learning From Experienced Entrepreneurs
Preparing Your Company for its First Employee
Hiring an Ad Agency for Your Business
Finding An Employee That Matches Your Leadership Style
Stop Sitting on the Sidelines

By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, May 17th, 2018 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Human Resources, Operations |