Cue up a little sunshine and suddenly everyone’s thinking about summertime. And that means internships are a common denominator on many college students’ minds. Whether it’s required or not, most are looking to get a jump start on putting their newly minted education to the test with some real-world experience. In fact, several short years ago, I found myself in that very situation.
As a business person, considering hiring for an internship position might leave you with myriad feelings. But perhaps answering this one question will find the solution to all the others—can I provide this student what they need to further their journey to a career? The following four thoughts will ensure that not only your intern, but also your company, will reap the benefits of investing in tomorrow’s workforce.
Be realistic about your investment.
It’s an age-old notion that interns are for coffee runs and grunt work. And it’s true that merely being exposed to your office environment will provide a certain amount of benefit, but the fact of the matter is you should be prepared to invest staff time in your intern. Whether it takes the form of preparing tasks for them to tackle over the course of their tenure or specifically training them on a certain skill, the true value you can provide is giving them valuable work experience. Speaking from experience, my best days were those spent tackling a targeted to-do list with trusted advisors at the ready to answer questions and guide me along the way (though it certainly didn’t hurt me to make the coffee sometimes, too!). The more you empower your intern with projects to tackle, the more mileage you’ll get out of their skills and the more you help them gain that valuable working knowledge.
Find an intern that fits your situation.
If you are looking to hire an intern, you are likely in an industry that requires some sort of specialized education. There are several options for finding an intern that fits your specific needs. One is to advertise as you typically would for any job opening. Another—if you’d like to pursue an intern from a particular college or university that has an emphasis in your area of focus, get in contact with them. Many universities have staff dedicated to connecting students with internships. They may offer job fairs, notice boards, or might even put you in direct contact with some potential recruits!
Take advantage of their perspective.
Often—though not always—your potential interns will belong to a younger generation. They represent not only the future of your workforce but also your consumer market. Whether you’re selling widgets or services, your intern can bring a fresh perspective to your business, and insight into alike consumers. Plus, there’s the added benefit that their education has laid a hefty groundwork of knowledge. Use this opportunity to collect valuable information that can contribute to the direction of your company.
Consider hiring potential.
It’s a pretty good guarantee that within a year or less, your intern will likely be hitting the job market looking for full-time employment. The beauty of hiring a candidate as an intern is it gives you a direct window into their capabilities and work ethic, without any commitment beyond the internship. Likely you’ve earned loyalty in the candidate from what you’ve invested in them by the conclusion of the internship. And, ultimately, if the intern has had a positive experience with your company, and you feel their skillset matches with your needs, it’s in the best interest of both parties to formally bring them onboard.
At VistaComm, we love to share our thoughts and experiences in hopes that they fuel your business decisions in a positive way. One of our favorite internship success stories comes from our very own Graphic Designer/Editor Talisa Wager, who initially joined us as an intern. We will celebrate her fifth year with VistaComm this summer!