As a business owner, you never want to turn down an extra set of hands. And if you know how to hire an intern, you increase the likelihood of having help when you need it.
According to Inc Magazine, the majority of small business owners are overworked. Entrepreneurs work 25% more than their employees, logging 50- or 60-hour weeks compared to the 34-hour national average.
With most executives working on weekends as much as weekdays, the thought of hiring interns can be enticing. Gaining fresh ideas and another pair of eyes can take some of the burden off yourself and other employees.
But before you get ahead of yourself, know that there’s a right and wrong approach to hiring an intern. While many eager college students would love to gather valuable work experience at your company, you want to hire interns who fit your company culture, offer the skills you seek, and show potential to be a full-time employee upon graduation.
In this guide, we’ll dive into how to hire an intern, including how to design your internship program, write a job description, and find qualified candidates.
Answer the Question, “What Does the Company Want Out of This?”
College students are hungry for experience. According to a Glassdoor study, the average corporate job posting gets 250 resumes (we offer a solution to weed through these applicants — just keep reading). Therefore, finding talent isn’t the issue. It’s about finding the right talent.
To find an intern who will most benefit your company, ask yourself, “What does the company want to get out of this?” Answering this will narrow down the department for which you’re hiring as well as the projects you’ll assign, and the skills you’ll require. Here are a few sample scenarios to help you reach your answer:
- Give a specific department extra help: If your sales team recently mapped out new territories, a sales intern could research and develop a database of leads for your team to cold call.
- Recruit for next year: By hiring, training, and mentoring interns now, you create a pool of talented, internal candidates to hire full-time next year.
- Gain new insight into new technology: College interns offer fresh ideas on content, social media, and new products you may be unaware of (and thereby, underutilizing).
Design Your Internship Program
According to the 2018 Intern and Recent Graduate Pay Rates and Practices Survey, only half of employers have a formal internship program. The number one reason companies didn’t have a structured plan in place was a lack of staff resources.
If your organization falls into this category, you don’t need a completely flushed-out internship program to make your first hire. However, you should be able to answer these questions before publishing your job posting:
- Who will supervise your interns? First-time hires, like entry-level employees and interns, need a supervisor to whom they report. Your internship coordinator should structure an onboarding process, provide feedback, assign tasks, and conduct regular check-ins with interns.
- What’s the expected workload? An intern’s workload will be lighter than that of regular employees. Determine what deliverables you expect of your interns, and reasonable milestones to set in place.
- When will the internship take place? Are you looking to fill a summer internship or one that extends throughout the school year? The length of the internship experience will also determine how many tasks you can reasonably expect an intern to complete.
- How will you determine success? What would make you, the employer, want to hire an intern as a full-time employee one year from now? Give your interns tactical, attainable goals they can work toward.
Determine How You’ll Compensate Your Intern
If you were hoping to offer an unpaid internship (or one for college credit), review the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by the U.S. Department of Labor to ensure it’s legal. These labor laws state that any employee — including interns — of a for-profit company must be compensated.
As reported in Fast Company, class action lawsuits against corporations using interns as free labor — including Hearst, Conde Nast, Warner Music, and NBCUniversal — have increased in the past decade. Therefore, be wary of creating an internship opportunity where the sole compensation is academic credit.
Unless you’re a non-profit or government entity, your interns should be paid. Payment will vary according to industry, skill set, and prior experience. While it’s up to you, your CFO, or your department head to allocate a budget, here are two figures to get you started:
- Minimum wage: The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, although your minimum wage could vary depending on your state.
- National average: According to the 2019 NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) Internship and Co-op Survey Report, the average hourly wage for interns is $19.05.
Write Your Job Posting
After you determine the goals, structure, and compensation for your intern program, it’s time to put it into writing. Your internship job description is meant to attract the right candidates and get potential interns excited about the position.
The intern job description will vary by department, but it should cover these areas:
- Role overview: Provide a quick summary (one paragraph) of the internship role and how it fits within the company. Use this section to “sell” potential hires on the role, including educational benefits, learning experiences, and any meaningful work.
- Duties and responsibilities: Explain the daily duties and tasks expected of the intern. Provide goals for the short-term and entire duration of the internship.
- Qualifications: Explicitly state any prerequisites for the role, including college classes, majors, or familiarity with tools and software.
- Compensation: Explain how the intern will be paid. (Again, be sure compensation complies with federal, state, and local laws).
Post Your Job Listing on a Job Board You Trust
To get qualified candidates, you’ll need to post your opening on a job board. Unfortunately, trying to recruit interns through job sites can be overwhelming for hiring managers and your human resources department.
Remember the 250-resumes-per-job-opening scenario mentioned earlier? To avoid that — and streamline your recruitment efforts — post your job on Scholars.
Scholars focuses strictly on internships and entry-level jobs for college students, plus it’s far more cost-effective than campus recruiting and career fairs. Here are three ways it can help your company recruit interns:
- Cost savings: Most companies that post their job on Scholars cut their internship recruitment costs by 50%.
- Database filters: Rather than get inundated with applications that don’t match your requirements, you can use our internship database to filter by location, skills, major, schools, and more.
- 100% match record: Every job that’s ever been posted on Scholars received a match from a qualified candidate.
The Last Step on How to Hire an Intern: Meet Qualified Candidates
The last step in the recruitment process is to interview qualified candidates and send a job offer.
Meeting your intern face-to-face (or over Zoom, if it’s a virtual internship) allows you and your team members to gather information beyond the application. How an applicant responds to interview questions tells you more about their oral communication skills and culture fit than their LinkedIn profile or cover letter.
Conducting interviews requires time and resources from the rest of your team. To reduce this burden, Scholars invites candidates to apply for your internship, thereby alleviating this step in the hiring process.
It’s Time to Hire Your Next Intern
Now that you know what it takes to design your internship program, write a job description, determine payment, and find qualified candidates, it’s time to put that knowledge into practice. Book a demo with Scholars today and you’ll be one step closer to finding your dream candidate.