Looking for a Summer Intern?
Planning and communications keys to a successful search
With high school and college students seeking work experience as part of their education, internships have become a perfect opportunity for a student to gain first-hand experience and for the employer to hire temporary help at low – or even no – cost to the company.
While it may appear to be a no-brainer – hire most capable and qualified person possible for a predetermined number of weeks or months and let them get mentoring and training – there are many aspects of internships that businesses should understand.
First, according to iHire.com, make sure you actually need an intern. Are you looking for someone who might become a full-time staffer after they graduate? Is it a case of bringing in more hands to do the work during the busy season?
If either of these are the case, your human resources office must make a few determinations regarding hiring an intern.
First, do you actually need an intern? Forbes suggests you hire an intern if your situation fits into any of these scenarios:
- New perspectives: Interns have not been involved in the way a company has always done a specific task. They can bring a fresh set of eyes and new ideas to the company.
- High technology: Bringing in young people who are familiar with social media and newer computer programs. They can improve the way a business utilizes technology.
- Future employee: Businesses can observe their skills set and work ethic, which may result in a paid position after they finish their studies.
- Do “real” work: If you are taking time to bring an intern into the workplace, give them meaningful work that will help your business be more successful.
Forbes notes that interns should not be hired if a business is simply looking for free labor, if the intern mentor is too busy to provide meaningful training to the intern or if there is no plan in place to provide interns experience in the workplace.
If HR determines an intern would be a benefit, both to the company and to the intern’s goals of gaining experience, the next step should be to develop a plan so there is a clear list of tasks and responsibilities that are expected of your intern. HR should identify the staff members who will serve as mentors, and coordinate with other departments where the intern might gain usable skills or knowledge, according to iHire.
The plan should also include the duration of the internship and how many hours of work will be required. Normally interns work 10 to 20 hours weekly during the school year and from 20 to 40 hours during the summer.
Crafting a job description that will attract millennials is an important part of the process as well. Will the internship benefit the environment? Will it help underserved communities afford services that are out of their financial reach? According to Achieve Consulting’s Millennial Impact Report, some 94% of millennials prefer to use their talents to benefit a charitable cause, and more than half were influenced by community service opportunities when choosing an employer.
Other considerations, according to iHire, include company culture, networking opportunities, professional development and travel opportunities.
Next, will the internship be paid or unpaid? That shouldn’t matter to interns who want to gain experience that will benefit them in the future. But if the internship is a paid position, the U.S. Department of Labor has ruled that interns be paid the federal minimum wage if they are working for a for-profit company. They also must be paid overtime.
The Department of Labor has developed six criteria that must be met for the internship to be considered unpaid, according to fastweb.com:
- The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar training that would be given in an educational environment;
- The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
- The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
- The employer providing the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern, and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
- The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
- The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
If you determine the position should be a paid internship, Looksharp.com has developed a list of highly competitive hourly pay ranges for attracting the top 5% of interns:
- Communications/PR/marketing: $12–$15
- Computer science/engineering: $15–$22
- Graduate business student: $15–$20
- Nonprofit: $12
You have the plan in place, the scope of the internship developed and are ready to start searching for the ideal intern.
But where do you post the job?
Social media and online college/internship boards— such as Symplicity, CSMand Chegg— are easy to post on, and are ideal for reaching technology-oriented candidates. For internships that require no specific skills, the job can be posted on grocery bulletin boards, in newspaper classifieds or through Craigslist.
Businesses favoring a hands-on approach may contact the career development offices of any colleges or universities in the area, attend campus job fairs, and coordinate an email blast targeting students majoring in relevant academic departments.