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Summer Help (And Some Are Not)

I love the interns in the film, The Life Aquatic, who wear Steve Zissou blue jumpsuits and red knit caps, and fetch submarine cappuccinos. But internships that bring the most to you, your company, and the intern, are more partnership than gophership.Take a few tips from my intern hiring in summers past:

  • Write a specific job description and note the skills required for the intern. Since this is a short-term, maybe even part-time employee, you can’t afford lots of training for this position.
  • To find interns, post your requirements, and the impact you’re offering, through social media, and your local universities and colleges.
  • Assign interns at least one project with defined measurable outcomes that they can boast on their resume.  It assures you’ll both have real impact from your respective investments and offsets some of the drudgery typically assigned to interns.  Choose a nice-to-have project instead of something mission critical, unless you have previous experience with this intern’s performance.
  • Manage interns with the same accountability you expect from all employees.
  • Interns who get college credit for their work might not be paid, but their effort isn’t free.  Plan to spend time reporting to their college professor and perhaps coaching on-the-job.  Interns that are doing work that is to the benefit of your company must, by law, be paid at least minimum wage and are subject to all other employment laws.  Keep an eye in particular on overtime.
  • Be open to what you might learn from your interns!  I first learned about Price Elasticity from once Rockhurst University intern, now business owner, Sherry Miskov.
  • Long the recruitment strategy of many professional firms for their entry-level positions, your internships might lead to longer relationships that benefit you both. I met Sonya Baughman during her UMKC internship, and we’ve worked together in many ways since. (Including her design for this web site!)

Add your tips in the comments section for a summer of fun through internships!

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