Many millennials exit school feeling unprepared for the workforce. This is somewhat surprising given the focus on internships in education. Something is lacking in the internship experience. So, what’s a company to do? Learn some vital tips for setting up an internship in your business, so both you and the student interns get the most from the experience.
Know the Student Interns Landscape
What does your company need? What does it have to offer new student interns? You need to have a clear picture of what you’re looking for in a new student worker. Treat an internship exactly as you would treat a new job. Be sure you have a job description and clear responsibilities in place.
Compensation and Pay
Every internship should be compensated in some way—if you cannot pay the student worker, there needs to be some other tangible benefit (beyond college credits). In fact, not every internship is a source of college credits. Take some time to research current trends in intern compensation, and put together something worthwhile for you and the student worker.
Know the Law
There are a lot of legal issues that surround intern programs. Be sure you understand the ramifications of the Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA, which establishes guidelines for minimum wage, overtime, keeping records and standards for employing youth in the private sector. Make sure your program is above board.
Make It Worthwhile
This is perhaps the biggest factor in making the most out of your internship program. Students are coming in to learn about their chosen field. Certainly it’s helpful to you to have someone to run errands and do general clerical work, but if the student isn’t getting some real experience in the business, they’re wasting their time.
You’re looking to prepare them, not just get help for you. Make sure that their job responsibilities include a good deal of real, hands-on work in the deep details of the company. That way they can have a list of skills to add to their burgeoning resume.
Understand the Term
An intern will be with you for a couple of months at most. It’s your job to expose them to as much of the business as possible in that time. To that end it’s a good idea to carefully schedule their duties, responsibilities and experience, with maybe a couple weeks in each area, and the most time spent on their specific focus.
Talk with the candidates about what they want to get out of the experience, and about what you are looking for from them. That way you can build the best program all around.
If you would like more information about setting up a great internship program, our HR professionals can help.