It is nearly summertime. And you know what that means in the corporate world. Internship time. Choosing an ideal intern can be tricky however. But there is a way to guarantee a perfect match for not only you but the intern as well. While some companies may offer them a stipend, interns usually work for free as a way to gain work experience or credits for college. Hiring an intern is a great way to get extra help for your company and possibly find a future full-time employee. But in order to create a successful internship, choose your intern carefully.
Before you select an intern, there are a few important things to do, says business consultant and education coach Dr. Stephen Jones, president of SAJ Publishing, an educational publishing firm. “First, conduct a formal interview similar to any other candidate. Also, create a job description so that your company staff is clear on the role of the intern. And lastly, give the student an assignment to see how they work on the project,” he says.
But how do you find an intern? “Make sure that the position is available for candidates to view by posting it on your webpage and at the local colleges,” explains Ruben Britt, Jr., assistant director, Career & Academic Planning Center at Rowan University. “Contact the career services center at the colleges in your region to determine if they can provide you with candidates to fill the position. Finally, if an employer is interested in establishing a long-term internship program, they should join a career/employer professional organization in their area to network and develop contacts with colleges.”
When hiring an intern, act as though you are hiring any other candidate for a full-time position. Go through the normal process: ask for a resume, application and interview. Keep in mind, though, interns will not have a great deal of job experience. When looking at a potential intern’s experience, consider other forms of experience outside of the workplace, such as volunteer experience.
Select an intern who is enthusiastic. Having someone new onboard who is excited can be refreshing for a company’s morale. It ensures that the candidate is eager to learn and will work hard. But also make sure your intern has realistic expectations about the job. An internship does not always guarantee a paying position in the future. Make sure the intern understands this.
Remember, an internship is a two-way street. While you get extra help, the intern gains experience. “It is an excellent idea for companies to have interns. An intern can bring fresh ideas about how to accomplish a specific task. They bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm into the work environment,” notes Jones. “The company will have an opportunity to recruit a potential employee. The company can also identify the new areas where they need to provide training for new employees. The company has an opportunity to add to the professional growth of the student who may become a permanent employee in the future.”
Adds Britt, “Interns are potential full-time employees who can save employers money on recruitment costs. It creates a bridge between the college and the employer and it can serve as a marketing tool for their organization. Also, it may create opportunities for joint ventures with both parties and establish a network for finding qualified individuals to fill positions including graduating seniors and alumni.”
Try not to give your intern just “grunt” work. “All too often interns do the grunt work, but the supervisor gets all the credit,” says Britt. “Grunt work can be beneficial if the work is related to their field of concentration. It will allow students to include these work-related duties on their resume. The best way to maximize your intern’s abilities is to utilize their transferable skills when appropriate, expose them to various aspects of the company and avoid giving them menial duties.” Jones agrees. “While most employers require some grunt work, it should not be the primary reason for hiring an intern,” he explains. “The best way to maximize an intern’s experience is by having a job description. This type of document will help to guide managers who need to creatively involve an intern.”