Do you remember when you first started off in the business? Did you have to run out to pick up a cup of coffee or go pick up your supervisor’s dry cleaning? Ah yes, I vividly remember the days of interning, or working for free to gain experience and earn college credits. Now, as a boss and small business owner, I’ve learned that interns can be a valuable part of a company. But, should you hire one?
Interns are a great way to gain extra help around your workplace, while helping students learn the ropes in a new career. Internships allow students to decide if what he or she is studying is really want he or she wants to do in the future. So before you start the process of hiring an intern, there are many things small business owners should consider first:
DO YOU HAVE THE TIME?
Having an intern doesn’t mean having cheap or free labor to help you out around the office. Do you really the time to mentor and train a college intern? You’ll need to devote time to teaching someone with no working experience, not only how to work, but teach them the ins and outs of your business. If you don’t think you’ll have enough time to devote to not only training someone, but grading his or her performance and filling out all the necessary paperwork, then an intern might not be for you.
DO YOU HAVE ENOUGH WORK?
If you find yourself sitting around the office all day without constant work to keep you busy, then you may not want to hire an intern. Truly ask yourself if you have enough work to pass along to an intern? Is the work just busy work or will you be able to give an intern experience on meaningful projects that truly represent your line of business? If the answer is no, then you may want to pass on an intern.
CAN OR DO YOU WANT TO MENTOR SOMEONE?
So you have enough work and enough time to help an eager college student, but do you want to be a mentor? Mentoring requires being a part-time teacher and that means answering lots of questions. Mentors should provide guidance and experience in a number of workplace scenarios. Mentors are eager to help. The top internships provide a structured program with hands-on training, set goals, and measurable outcomes. If this sounds like something you can and want to do, then you may want to move forward with a company internship program.
DO YOU HAVE JOB OPENINGS?
At some companies, internships can lead to job openings. Do you want to create a buzz in your business and hire the best young talent? Are you interested in turning an internship into a job pipeline? If you said yes, make sure you speak to your accountant or bookkeeper. It’s important to have the right paperwork in place to hire an intern if their work is impressive and you have the opening to do it.
While asking your intern to pick up a coffee for you isn’t illegal, it’s probably not the best use of a talented college student’s time. Instead, make sure you hire someone who is trustworthy, hardworking and a potentially great employee. Great interns can turn into great employees and great leaders in the future, so take your job of mentoring today’s youth seriously.