By Robert Lerose.
Internships are no longer limited exclusively to the summer months. Today, businesses are recruiting interns throughout the year and seeing long-term benefits. For example, hardworking or talented interns can become a rich source of future employees for your business. One study found that 67.7 percent of interns in a given year received offers of fulltime employment. Interns are an effective form of labor that can boost your company's productivity and provide new, youthful viewpoints that can energize your business.
Internships.com, which runs an online marketplace for students and employers to find each other, has these suggestions for establishing and managing a year-round intern program.
1. Evaluate the needs and assets of your business
Before you put out the word that your business might be looking for interns, poll your internal departments to see the feasibility of bringing interns on board. Among the things to consider are the type of compensation you can afford; the number of interns you can realistically recruit; the type of work they will be assigned; and even whether you have the space or equipment to handle interns.
2. Look into the legal requirements
Compliance issues—such as a minimum wage, workers' compensation, safety and harassment enforcement—vary state by state. Check with your company's lawyers or a lawyer skilled in employment law to see about your responsibilities and obligations.
For your intern program to succeed, make sure you have the full support of key members of your team. Interns that are viewed as a threat, an unnecessary expense, or in some other negative light, will negate any benefit they can bring onboard. Giving your interns a welcoming work environment and the proper company resources can lead to rewarding results.
4. Map out a program
Once you have the buy-in of your management team, establish some concrete guidelines or answer book that your staff can turn to about critical issues. For example, you should have clearly stated policies about the types of projects that will be assigned, the daily responsibilities of interns, evaluation procedures, and the content of an orientation program for interns.
5. Pick your team and a start date
Select the supervisors who will manage the intern program and give them specific tasks and responsibilities for making it run smoothly on a daily basis. Once everything is in place, put the word out that your business is looking for interns. Internships.com recommends giving your company 7 to 10 weeks between the time an intern position is posted and when the intern will begin.
6. Interview and hire
Invite promising candidates for an interview. Follow up with background checks and investigate references. Treat this as any other type of fulltime hire. Include your supervisors in the decision-making process. After a candidate is selected and accepts, begin their orientation program and put them to work.
Having interns throughout the year can keep a steady stream of bright, industrious, and potential fulltime employees at your disposal, and bring fresh ideas to your business.
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