Interns can help your business thrive, help you seek out successful future employees and enable you to cultivate new talent within your industry. However, starting an internship program takes time, and businesses can get in legal trouble if they don’t follow federal guidelines for interns. If you’re wondering how to hire interns, consider the following points:
Who Will Supervise the Interns?
Internship programs work best when interns have a specific supervisor in charge of interviewing, hiring, and overseeing daily duties. Designate a specific person at your company to contact local colleges, post internship listings, interview candidates, and run the internship program, and then make sure this person has enough time to do it. While interns can be helpful, it will take a significant amount of time for them to settle in and understand how your company works.
What Will the Interns Do?
Make sure you have enough tasks for the interns to complete, or you’ll have an army of wide-eyed people constantly asking “What can I do?” Think about which tasks can be trusted to inexperienced people who may make mistakes. Also, consider having an alternating schedule of interns so that work can be divided.
Should the Internship Be Paid or Unpaid?
More and more businesses are using unpaid interns, but interns should not simply be a never-ending source of free labor. Unpaid interns should be experiencing an educational experience at your company that is for their benefit, not yours. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, an internship needs to satisfy the follow six criteria to be considered legal:
- The training, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to what would be given in a vocational school or academic educational instruction
- The training is for the benefit of the trainees
- The trainees do not displace regular employees, but work under their close observation
- The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the trainees, and on occasion the employer’s operations may actually be impeded
- The trainees are not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training period
- The employer and the trainees understand that the trainees are not entitled to wages for the time spent in training
Be sure to follow all internship guidelines — including making sure unpaid interns receive school credit — to avoid any legal trouble.