Attracting and Engaging Millennial Interns / Managing / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Hiring interns can be a cost-effective way to expand your small business workforce. But make sure you follow these 5 steps to make the...

A company's future is only as good as its employees. Raw human talent drives the success and failure of any given business, so choosing the staff best suited for your company's goals should be your number one objective. Interns are an excellent way to cultivate the future workforce businesses-start-ups, mid-sized, and massively corporate-of any size. However, you must give the right directions and resources if you want your internship experience to be a successful one. Here are some tips to utilize your intern's full potential.

Know Where to Look

Potential interns are everywhere, but it's important to know where to look for the best ones (Tweet This Now!). Before you begin your search, define your company's goals for both the short and long-term. Consider how an intern will help you meet those goals and push the company in a positive direction. Also, think about what kind of person you want to join your team. Are you looking for someone people savvy, good with numbers, or both? Once you know what job skills you're looking for in a new intern, create a listing on an internet internship site, job board or message board, clearly outlining your expectations for your next new hire.

Related:The 10 Golden Rules for Hiring All-Star Employees

Get to Know Them

An intern is effectively useless if you don't know how to play up their strengths. Take the time to understand what makes them tick and what their goals are. Find out if they have any applicable job skills from a previous job, volunteer, or life experiences. You might be surprised to learn your intern is fluent in multiple languages, or perhaps has a knack for coding or graphic design. A company will only benefit when all of its employees-even the interns-are performing tasks that are best suited to their skills and abilities.

Pay Your Interns

It's no secret that people like to be rewarded for their hard work and effort, especially if that effort directly contributes to the health of the company. Forbes notes that paid interns are happy interns (Tweet This!). They're more likely to show up to work with enthusiasm, ready to tackle the day's new challenges and work for the good of the company. Plus, paying your interns will instill a sense of pride in their workplace. They'll share that love of the company with their friends and family, raising brand awareness and helping create good grassroots PR. No company likes to hear interns use the term "slave labor" to describe their experience. Even if they don't stay at your company, paying interns will make sure they keep a favorable impression that could be a boon during future business endeavors.

Related:9 HR Basics for Any Small Business

Find the Right Mentor

The next step in the internship process should be designating one of your existing employees as a mentor for the intern. This person should make him or herself available if the intern ever has any questions or needs advice choosing the best course of action for a given task. The mentor should also be responsible for keeping track of the intern's progress by ensuring they're performing tasks correctly and efficiently. The mentor could give valuable insights into the intern's work ethic as well, observing how they tackle problems and communicate with people both inside and outside the office.

Give Them Meaningful Work

Interns apply to companies primarily for the experience. They want to immerse themselves in the culture and lifestyle surrounding their ideal career field. Giving an intern menial tasks to perform, like making copies and doing coffee runs, isn't going to imbue a sense of purpose or engage their problem-solving skills. If you want your interns to grow and possibly take over full time positions in the future, its important they understand how to competently and independently solve problems. An employer ought to prepare their interns for the same challenges full-time employees face every day.

Related:How to Avoid Hiring Monsters: A Guide to Better Hiring Decisions

Adding an intern can be a cost-effective way to expand your workforce and productivity. They're also excellent for breathing new life into stagnating companies and introducing fresh, possibly game-changing ideas. Consider interns the next time you're looking to grow and sustain your company.

Author Bio: Annie Davis is a freelance business writer from Tampa, FL who occasionally contributes to Besides writing, she also enjoys discovering new ways to streamline business practices, shopping, photography, kayaking, and traveling. You can reach her on Google+

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