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A Case for Interns

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Internships are good for students and good for business.

BusinessAug2015As a business owner, there are a lot of hiring decisions that you will need to make. None are easy, because, as you know, bad hires are bad for business. However, one question that comes up regularly is whether or not to bring in interns to be a part of your team. The answer is absolutely! Offering college students an internship opportunity can come with a few setbacks, but the benefits completely outweigh the risks for both the interns and your business.

Free Help and Minimal Financial Risk

One of the biggest perks for small business owners (who should always be trying to cut costs) is to hire students to work in a field in which they are interested. The perks for students include: gaining valuable experience; having the chance to try out a potential career; and, sometimes, even earning school credit (if offered). The main benefit for employers, meanwhile, is getting the help they need but that they cannot always afford. The biggest consideration is not giving the candidate access to sensitive company information. Or, if you do allow them access, then make sure that they sign a non-disclosure agreement regarding their time spent working at your company.

The Best Brand Advocates

Students are usually excited about getting a taste of what the real world is like through an internship. No matter what their job entails, students can easily become your best brand advocates — if they feel that the internship was a positive opportunity toward achieving a meaningful life and career. Through simply telling family and friends about their experience, interns represent your business daily in a positive light. If they have a great mentor within the company, you can expect their stories to be genuine and bring life to your business.

Big Differences for Your Organization

Big projects require lots of planning and resources, and there are different moving parts and tasks that can be accomplished more efficiently with the assistance of interns. Interns will not only help, but they can also bring new ideas to the table. They learn to be a part of the bigger picture in making a project have a successful outcome. A good business will make sure the intern participates in both the brainstorming aspects of the project and the actual work pipeline that ultimately brings the ideas to fruition. Additionally, interns, who are usually of a younger generation, are your near-future group of consumers and therefore provide insight not previously explored.

An Expanding Employee Base

You can easily hire temporary interns who turn into full-time employees that you do not need to train again. The best way to do this is to actively seek interns in their final year of study or who have recently graduated. That way, you can evaluate their skills, and, if they meet your standards, you can possibly provide a full-time position once the internship ends. A three- to six-month internship will give you infinitely more insight into a potential employee than a 15-minute interview.

Overall, intern positions are great for students and employers alike. In certain industries, interns have a 70-percent success rate compared to 30 to 50 percent of those who chose not to pursue an internship. Additionally, up to 50 percent of students who held an internship during college were hired by December of their senior year. Students without internship experience may have to wait months after graduation to get hired.

What do these statistics prove? For employers, there are both short- and long-term benefits. Employers benefit from the low costs and risks of having interns, along with all of the help they provide. Also, employers have the opportunity to shape the future of the economy. In the coming decades, the current batch of interns will lead the country.

Top 5 Things to Remember When Recruiting Interns

To get potential students to intern for your business, you need to recruit. When recruiting interns, there are five things you should be sure to do.

1. Market
Websites like experience.com, idealist.org, internships.com and collegerecruiter.com are all great places to start posting about your available internship(s). But the best way is to contact the career-development department at local colleges and universities. This department tells students about internships offered.

2. Details
If the details of the internship seem confusing, students may not be tempted to apply. Have everything set out. What are their responsibilities? What type of student are you looking for? What type of business is it? Simply saying that you have an internship available and listing your contact information is either going to leave you with a lot of emails and calls or none at all.

3. Stay Positive
Make your internship desirable but not unattainable. Instead of describing the type of people you don’t want, list the traits that you do want.

4. Make Them Feel Comfortable
Set up a comfortable interview. Some students will get nervous, especially if it is their first real interview. If you have time, offer to give constructive criticism about the interview after it happens. If you have more than a few interns applying at the same time, try doing a group interview.

5. Be Flexible
Be open to the type of intern. Your best candidate may not be in the exact field of study you really want. Let’s say you run a journalism company, but a business-major student applies for the internship. That’s okay. You may even be the reason they change their career path.