Hiring Interns

Business.com / HR Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

There are many ways hiring interns can add value to your organization. They can minimize the impact to your hiring budget. They may ...

There are many ways hiring interns can add value to your organization. They can minimize the impact to your hiring budget. They may work on projects that need to be completed that free up your experienced employees to work on more complex assignments. Oftentimes interns will bring new ideas and energy into an organization. They may even become great full-time employees who are already trained in job functions and are therefore immediately productive.

When considering a Paid Internship, be thinking of the following:

* Even though you are required to only pay the Federal or State minimum wage, consider the education and knowledge of the students you want to hire.
* Consider the job requirements, skills and responsibilities necessary for your internship. Will your intern need to perform basic skills, or will they be asked to perform duties that require a higher level of expertise?
* If you are not sure what the fair market wage is for the position you want to fill, make a quick call to your local college or university and ask for the career development office, or contact another local business to see what they pay. Most employers are happy to share information with you.

When considering Unpaid Internships, be thinking of the Department of Labor's Criteria:

Federal and State Laws dictate whether a particular job is considered an internship or a paid worker position. Although the Department of Labor doesn't use the word intern, or provide a definition of such, they have developed criteria to determine if a learner/trainee is a paid employee entitled to minimum wage and all other applicable laws, or a learner/trainee that is unpaid or paid a stipend. The definition of employee differs from labor laws and workers compensation state laws as well. Please be sure to check all applicable state laws in addition to federal regulations.

The 6 criteria developed by the Department of Labor that must be met in order for the positions to be an Unpaid internship are:

1. The training, although it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to the training which would be received from a vocational school.
2. The training must be for the benefit of the intern.
3. The intern must not displace regular employees, but work under the close observation of a regular employee or supervisor.
4. The employer provides the training and derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern, and on occasion, the operations may actually be impeded by the training.
5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the end of the internship.
6. Both the intern and the employer understand that the intern is not entitled to wages. A student may be able to receive a stipend however.

All of these criteria must be met in determining if the intern is a paid employee or a learner/trainee.

Of these 6 criteria, three of them are very straightforward:

* #3 - the intern cannot displace regular employees
* #5 - the intern is not guaranteed a job at the end of the internship
* #6 - the intern is aware and has agreed there are no wages due

The other three criteria are more open to interpretation. Be sure to verify state labor laws. Other areas to be considered when hiring a student are Federal and State Child Labor and Workers Compensation Laws.

Once you have developed a job description and the wages have been determined, be sure to let your employees know that you are hiring. Employees are oftentimes the best source for referrals. And don't forget to spend your money wisely. Interview the interns like you would a full-time employee. Do a few reference checks with their prior employers if possible, or contact a professor. The job may only be for the summer, but if you hire poorly, it can be a long summer.

Contact local colleges and universities

Many colleges and universities have departments dedicated to getting their students out in the field through internships and jobs. Developing a good relationship with these institutions can lead to a very beneficial relationship on all sides.

Specify what kind of intern you are looking for

when looking for a new intern or new hire one of the most important aspects is making sure that the job description, and what you want out of the prospective employee/intern are accurate. Many times recruiters will try to sell the job instead of trying to match it to the right person, this leads to false expectations and can lead to low retention.

Don't treat them as "the intern"

Good interns are made to feel as part of the team and given meaningful tasks that will challenge them. If all you want an intern for is to take care of your busy work then it will be a painful experience for both.

Set realistic goals

Goal setting is a very important part of the internship experience. It gives the intern the ability to feel as though they contributed. Assigning interns to tasks that they will never see the outcome is not nearly as effective. Good goals will excite the intern and give them confidence to take the position to the next level, employment.

Provide effective feedback

Upon leaving the internship, an individual should be given feedback, both good and bad. With good interns it can be tempting to sugar coat their downfalls and present them as flawless. Taking the time to provide constructive criticism and tips for the future while recognizing their achievements results in a much more effective experience.

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