Today, almost all students are looking for ways to get their foot in the door by working for a company as an intern. Internships not only help students gain the experience they need, but business owners benefit from an extra set of hands around the office. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, “85 percent of employers say hiring an intern was a positive experience.

Internships offer valuable learning experience for those that are looking for a job or just testing out an industry to see if it is a right fit. Be sure to consider these factors when hiring an intern:

Paid vs Unpaid
Keep in mind that many students are racking up a mountain of debt to better their self for the working world. Paid internships only help to make your company more attractive when they are considering where to apply. Although, some companies cannot afford to offer a paid internship and look to other options such as college credit, health benefits, stipends, providing training, networking opportunities, attendance to conferences or events, etc. These all offer a competitive advantage for those companies able to provide them.

Due to recent updates to the Fair Labor Standards Act, be sure to research the requirements by your state’s Department of Labor before bringing anyone on as an intern. This will help to make sure you’re staying compliant with rules and regulations.

Provide Value
Interns want to contribute to the success of your organization as well as gain real work experience, not just pick up coffees for the office every morning. Consider offering them a mentor to meet with on a weekly basis or shadow to get a real perspective of daily tasks and functions. Most of these interns will have little to no work experience and will appreciate consistent communication. Incorporate them into a project, or even better, assign them their own project to complete. This will provide them with tangible evidence of what they did during their time as an intern under your company.

Prepare to be Flexible
Most of your interns are students on summer break. Depending upon what was discussed at the interview and whether the position is paid or not, there will most likely be vacations planned and time off needed. Be ready to work this into the schedule, and be flexible with what you expect them to do during this time.

What to Look for in Candidates
Interns are great ways to bring in fresh ideas and find potential employees for your company. Fortunately, hiring an intern is not much different than hiring a regular employee. Be clear about what your needs are for an intern, what type of experience they can gain from working for your company, as well as whether the position will be paid or offer another form of compensation. Then look for candidates whose background matches up with your industry or even those who do not, but could bring in a new perspective.

All in all, internships are beneficial not only for the person interning, but also for your company. Try to keep these factors in mind when creating a position in your company, and you should have a positive experience from both sides of the spectrum. For a beneficial tool when hiring interns, check out our downloadable seasonal employee onboarding checklist from our recent blog, “8 Best Practices for Hiring Seasonal Workers”.

Photo Credit: COD Newsroom

Stephanie Allen

Stephanie obtained her IMBA in 2012 and started her career at MPAY shortly after. After a year in customer service, she transferred to MPAY’s marketing team, bringing her knowledge of the industry, excitement, and love for marketing.