Hire interns with these 7 tips
A well-designed and executed internship program allows students to explore potential careers and obtain valuable job experience. It can also create a robust talent pipeline and bolster a company’s reputation.
“Small businesses offer a number of advantages to interns that larger companies don’t,” says Allison Farber Cheston, a New York career adviser who helps interns connect with employers, and offers small businesses guidance on hiring. Cheston says small businesses can be more responsive to the varying skill sets candidates may bring.
If you’re gearing up to hire interns, here are some tips to consider:
1. Determine specific job functions
While it can be tempting to jump in and hire additional staff to cover for employee vacations, it’s important to assess your business needs and have specific job duties in mind once you decide it’s time to hire an intern. Also consider having a back-up plan for your intern, if your summer business isn’t as robust as you’d hoped.
For example, a computer design student might be perfect to help your business launch a new website, or an intern majoring in marketing could assist you in creating a campaign to attract new customers.
By planning for and engaging candidates with specific skills, Cheston notes you might be able to get a head start on the rest of the year by having interns update your social media sites, conduct product research, and work on other projects you may have put on the back burner.
2. Recruit the right way
Just because an intern isn’t a full-fledged employee, doesn’t mean you should put little effort into sourcing them. Apply the same recruiting and interviewing techniques you use for your normal hiring (assuming those strategies have been successful).
At Power Train Sports and Fitness, a sports performance and fitness chain, franchise owners bring on 3-10 interns each summer. “Many of our interns are high school and college athletes who have trained with us in the past,” says Scott Morris, vice president of operations for Power Train.
If recruiting interns from your existing customer base isn’t possible, Cheston recommends referencing a list of colleges and universities in your region and focusing your recruitment efforts there.
3. Embrace social media
Today’s students are increasingly searching for internships online and your recruiting efforts should reflect this. Use your company website, Facebook page, and Twitter account to spread the word about your internship program and other job openings.
If you don’t have an internal recruiter, designate an employee to be in charge of summer hiring — ideally someone who will directly manage and train summer interns. This person could help with social media recruitment by:
- Posting positive testimonials from previous interns
- Conducting outreach in relevant social media groups and forums
- Posting intriguing, helpful content
These tactics can help build the company brand and recognition while also drawing the attention of interested, qualified interns.
4. Invest in training
Many small businesses have found that conducting a more thorough employee orientation ensures consistency across the workforce, and generates employee loyalty. To help your interns start off on the right foot, more companies are offering enhanced onboarding programs.
At Power Train, summer interns go through a hands-on training that combines mock fitness classes, shadowing coaches, and learning how to create an individualized fitness program for clients.
5. Research your compensation abilities and obligations
To compete for top talent and motivate your interns, it’s a good idea to pay them. Plus, if you’re a for-profit business, there are strict state and federal guidelines for when you’re allowed to offer unpaid internships. If an intern is treated and utilized more like a regular employee, they are entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay. Furthermore, if you miscategorize your interns and violate state or federal laws, you could face stiff penalties.
6. Design a creative benefits package
However, not every small businesses can offer summer interns the same competitive wages as larger companies in their area. If that’s the case, consider bolstering your compensation package with creative benefits such as a relaxed business casual dress code, flexible hours, events like company barbeques, or specially designated summer days such as “Smoothie Fridays.” At Power Train, summer employees are given complimentary gym privileges.
7. Look to the future
After you hire interns, be on the lookout for workers who could be valuable team members if openings arise at your small business in the future. “We look for interns who show potential of becoming full-time employees,” says Steve Saunders, Power Train founder. “Working here for a summer is a way for both the managers and the interns to determine if this is a good fit. Many of our summer employees go on to join our team in a more permanent capacity.”
Cheston says it’s especially important to keep your future hiring needs in mind when hiring student interns for the summer. “Offering competitive salaries and a variety of hands-on experiential learning to students in multiple areas can make your small business a very attractive option.”
Map out your intern recruiting strategy
Running a mutually beneficial internship program can work wonders for your business and provide high-quality employees for your future needs. Whether you’ve decided to hire interns or you’re looking for full-time employees, map out a strategy that works for your company. Sign up for Monster Hiring Solutions to receive expert recruiting advice, the latest in hiring trends, and even some great Monster deals.