by| Featured Contributor
Autumn is right around the corner, and many small businesses are preparing to recruit interns for the fall semester. Hiring an intern is exciting for a small business. Interns bring fresh perspectives and ideas for projects to revitalize departments that may be getting stagnant. Some internships are so successful that the intern is invited to work for the company for another semester — or even receives a job offer to become a full-time employee!
However, before a small business can hire an intern they must have an understanding of the intern’s role in the company. While internships are certainly measured at a different performance level than that of say, a full-time employee, interns are still able to make significant contributions to the business. Much like hiring an employee, you should be able to answer the following questions to ensure hiring an intern is in the company’s best interest.
1. Do you have enough meaningful work to assign an intern?
There was a time when interns were hired to run errands, place coffee orders, and make copies. Those were the primary duties of their internship. Now, small businesses need as many hands on deck as possible. Interns should be brought on to do meaningful work.
Before hiring an intern, examine what kind of work you can assign them. If you’re hiring for a specific department, like social media or graphic design, the workload should be relevant to its respective role. It should also be fairly entry-level to start. The intern may eventually be able to progress towards working on more difficult tasks, but their initial duties should be easy to grasp. An intern’s workload should also consist of assignments that they are passionate about and would be proud to list as an accomplishment on their resume. If you don’t have enough meaningful work for an intern, you may consider waiting to hire until the winter semester.
2. Is there an onboarding process for the intern?
Your small business likely already has an onboarding process for full-time employees. This may be tweaked ever so slightly to accommodate an intern. Let’s take a look at what the prep for onboarding interns may entail.
- Setting up their workstation. Determine where in the office the intern will sit. Make sure they have a computer at their station, along with a work email address, a phone (if necessary), and key to enter the office. Each workstation should also include an employee handbook and any other hiring documents necessary to fill out so they are ready to go from day one.
- Introduce the intern to the team. Whomever the intern reports to as their boss will need to make the rounds around the office and introduce the intern to the rest of the team. This individual should also point out where the restrooms, break rooms, and spaces where copy and fax machines are kept, too.
- Meet for orientation. Now that the intern has been properly introduced to everyone and knows exactly where they’ll be working, it’s time to regroup for orientation. Use this time to explain more about how the business works, their role in the company, and what the mission and goals of the company are for the future.
3. Can a mentor to provide guidance to the intern?
You understand what you need an intern to accomplish in their role and have prepped for onboarding and orientation into the company. You’re almost ready to hire an intern! There’s just one thing left to do, and that is to assign them a mentor or trusted team member.
It’s impossible to hire an intern, give them a list of assignments to work on, and peace out on them. New interns will likely have many questions and need a bit of guidance when starting out. Assigning a mentor, or team member, that they can report to is crucial for a successful internship. The mentor helps get the intern up to speed with the expectations of the business. They’re there to offer extra assistance, answer questions, and check in on their performance.
Establishing this kind of relationship does more than ensure the internship is successful from the beginning to the end of the semester. A trustworthy mentor ultimately prepares an intern for the next stage of their career. With their help, the intern will have a better understanding of how to reach their goals and keep progressing onward. Eventually, the fall intern your small business hired will be able to work in leadership roles of their own — and they will likely credit your small business for helping them get far in their career!
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com which provides online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, startup bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent services, DBAs, and trademark and copyright filing services. You can find MyCorporation on Twitter at @MyCorporation.