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6/6/14: Got Interns?

If you and your organization are taking on one or more interns this summer, you are not alone.  The economy continues to strengthen, and that means entry-level hiring will trend in a positive direction again this year.  Interns have become the new entry-level for many organizations; and according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, nearly 60% of interns entering their senior year in college this fall will receive a full-time offer from their internship employer.

So, make the best of the internship relationships this summer.  A few tips for success…

Give your intern some meaningful work.  You will be pleased at what an energetic student with knowledge, skills, enthusiasm, and ambition can accomplish.  You can learn from them as much as they will learn from you.  Get your own coffee and make your own copies – the exercise will do you good!

Pay your intern.  Meaningful work deserves the proper consideration, and gone are the days where interns can be viewed as “free labor”.  If your organization is in the private sector, it may be difficult to justify not paying your intern.  Keep in mind Fact Sheet #71 from the U.S. Department of Labor under the Fair Labor Standards Act which offers guidelines for compliance when employing unpaid interns.  And remember the “Black Swan – Fox Searchlight” case from a couple of years ago.  A lot can be learned from the mistakes of others.  By the way, offering academic credit does not always enable you to forego paying your interns in the private sector.

Enable your intern to grow.  Interns are seeking experience, exposure, visibility, and connections.  Set them up for success with a few introductions, invitations to lunch, participation in meetings, and let them take it from there.  Eventually, someone will thank you for introducing them to your company’s next great hire, and there is no heavy lifting on your part!

Have expectations of your intern.  College students are accustomed to deadlines and final exams taking place only 10 or 11 weeks after starting a course.  When there is something at stake, you will be amazed at what an intern can accomplish.  Perhaps offer them a chance to shine through a final project or presentation to your management team.

Finally, make sure your intern has a great experience from start to finish.  What better branding and advertising can you hope for than for a bright student who just had a terrific summer experience at your company and returns to campus to share their story with classmates and faculty?  Next year, the applications will triple.  Conversely, can you imagine the impact if a student who had a negative internship takes that experience back to campus and shares it with a few hundred people?   Your days on that campus may be numbered…

Just a few easy points to keep in mind for you and your interns.  Have a great summer, give those interns a lot of meaningful work to do, and the rewards will not be far behind!