By Maria Valdez Haubrich
Does your small business need more hands to handle all the work coming your way, but you don’t want to hire a full-time employee and deal with payroll taxes, paperwork and all the red tape that goes with it? Or maybe you don’t have the budget for a full-time worker, but you still need help. One option is hiring a student intern.
Hiring interns can be complex, however, because there are a variety of laws regulating internship programs that vary from state to state. To help small businesses create internship programs that work for all involved, the National Association of Colleges and Employers has put together a list of tips for creating good internship programs. Here are some that I thought were especially interesting and useful for small business owners:
- Offer flexible hours or other nontraditional opportunities. Many surveys in recent years have shown that young people want, and expect, flexible hours, the ability to work from home and other perks that help them balance work and life. College students definitely have the tech know-how to work virtually, so if you’ve got tasks they can handle at home, why not let them go for it? You’ll make your internship more appealing.
- Involve younger workers on your team. NACE suggests holding brownbag lunches or other gatherings where the newest hires on your staff talk to interns about their experiences at your company and their backgrounds. A small business may not have that many new hires, but it’s still good practice to let entry-level employees on your team mentor the interns and show them the ropes.
- Expose interns to senior management. One big perk of an internship is the chance to learn about a business from the inside out. At a small business, that’s easy. Take the intern/s out to lunch or set up some other informal session where you and the key members on your team talk to them about the business. How did you start it, how did you grow it, what are your goals? How can the intern play a role?
In addition to these tips, I have one more: Seek interns through an official internship program at a college or university. These organizations can help you understand what laws and regulations govern internships, such as whether interns in your state can be unpaid, hours worked and more.
Need more help? The NACE even sells a guidebook on the topic that covers issues such as supervising and evaluating interns and how to measure the effectiveness of your internship program.
Image by Flickr user Bart Everson (Creative Commons)