Hiring interns is an excellent option for small business owners on a budget. Internships are the perfect way to grow your business and your network and do some good at the same time. These programs for college students and recent graduates allow you to get work for cheap or sometimes even for nothing. But perhaps more importantly, when you hire interns, you also groom students for life after college and help prepare them to be an effective, productive member of the workforce. This can be a great chance to build relationships with universities that can help you secure top talent for full-time employment once you are able to offer those opportunities. But, internship programs can have their downfalls too if you get stuck with a bad intern. Avoid that scenario by using these best practices for hiring interns.
Straight From The Source
If you want to hire interns quickly, it is best to go straight to the source. The source being, in this case, the career services office of your local university. Tell the career services office of your plans. Identify what you are looking for in your interns and describe the position requirements and responsibilities. Then, ask if they know of any students that would fit these descriptions. No need to waste your time posting internships on Indeed, Craigslist or elsewhere. This is the best way to find high-quality interns easily.
Have A Conversation
In order to hire the best interns, you have to conduct a different type of interview. Remember, you are not paying them, after all. You are mentoring students in attempts at preparing them for the real world after university. Instead of drilling potential interns with tons of questions that make them nervous and uncomfortable, have a conversation with them. Talk to them openly about their passions and career goals, their strengths and weaknesses. Be honest with them about the job duties and what you are looking for. Talk to them about your business, what it does and how you got started. Take time to answer their questions, even if all they ask is “what can you do with a MBA?” Having a conversation with potential interns is much better than conducting a traditional interview. It is more likely to find you high-quality internship candidates that want to be a part of your team.
Develop A Plan
Develop a plan for onboarding and training interns. If you want to have a successful experience that does not cause more anxiety and work than it is worth, this is a must. Remember, after you hire interns, they are only with you for a few short months. You want to maximize that time. Developing an onboarding plan will allow both you and your intern to benefit from the internship experience. Anything you create should also include plans for periodic performance reviews in order to develop your intern skills and keep them on track. This way, you have everything in place and ready to maximize your time with your new intern.
If you want to find the best interns possible for your business internship program, you will need to sell the position just as you would for regular job openings. Potential interns will want to know what is in it for them, besides college credit. If you do not provide value to interns, they will not give you their best efforts. Make sure you create a job title that they can be proud of. Also, make sure you create an enticing job description, regardless of where you post it. Sell the internship position by talking about the impact your interns will be able to make over the course of their time at your business. Describe the professional developments they will make under your tutelage. This is the best way to get a great batch of people applying to your internship, even if you are not offering them a big enough salary to feed their Arby’s nutrition addiction. That way, you can hire interns that do not make your office environment an unpleasant one.
Describe The Role
When creating job listings for internships, be sure to clearly define and describe the role new interns will play in your organization. Then, be sure to follow up by actually sticking to that job description. This will help you ensure compliance with internship guidelines, if you are not paying interns. If you are offering paid internships, this will help to entice interns and prepare them for their new role before they ever even step inside the office. Creating an internship description that is accurate and easy to follow allows you to prepare meaningful projects that will help both your business and your new interns. This way, you will not accidentally hire the intern from hell.
If you are a small business owner, creating an internship program is a great way to build your network of potential job candidates while giving back to your alma mater, the local community or the next generation at large. However, you should be careful not to hire interns that bring down office morale and make you regret starting an internship program. Interns should not be asking “what should I get a degree in?” if you are going to be considering them for an internship. Follow the best practices for hiring interns above. This way, you will hire interns that make meaningful contributions to business.
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