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creating-an-internship-program

5 Steps to Creating an Internship Program that Rocks

Interns can be an incredible resource to small businesses when chosen and trained correctly. They are usually smart, enthusiastic, and eager to assist you in the day-to-day running of the company. Here are five steps to creating an internship program that works for you, and your interns.

Creating an internship program

Step 1: Decide on the intern’s specific responsibilities

When you are building an internship program, start with what you want the intern to do. What exactly will the intern be responsible for? How long will the internship last? How many hours will the successful candidate be required to put in? How will you evaluate their work? How will you handle intern questions? Will you designate one person as the intern’s resource person, or give the intern a notebook to list questions and give answers once daily–or a third option that works best for your business?

When you are building an internship program, start with what you want the intern to do. What exactly will the intern be responsible for? How long will the internship last? How many hours will the successful candidate be required to put in? How will you evaluate their work? How will you handle intern questions? Will you designate one person as the intern’s resource person, or give the intern a notebook to list questions and give answers once daily–or a third option that works best for your business?

If you are specific from the beginning, you will avoid misunderstandings later on down the road. Your expectations will be clear and the intern will know exactly what you anticipate from their performance.

Step 2: Write a job description

You will want to be specific here, too. A clear description of what you need, and what experience you are offering to the candidate, will attract the best talent. The next step is getting the job description to the right places …

Step 3: Finding the right intern

Do you know how to find interns for your business? Post your available position where an intern might find your well-crafted job description. Try these …

  1. You can utilize local school programs. Work with the career counseling centers at your local universities and community colleges while setting up an internship program. Keep in mind that the university will have requirements for the internship so that the student will receive college credit, and you may have to report periodically on the student’s progress. However, once the college advisers see that you are providing a worthwhile internship experience, they may send new interns your way each year.
  2. Check out career websites, “intern hubs,” and other resources. Dedicated websites such as Glassdoor can help you find interns through a database of candidates, or you can post to career sites like CareerMarketplace.com for industry and occupation-specific job listings. Maybe an intern will find your job description on LinkedIn or via Google.
  3. Don’t forget about social networking while designing internship programs. Send out a tweet or post to your Facebook page that your company is looking for interns. You can gather responses from people who you know are already interested in your company.
  4. You also may want to think about nontraditional interns who are looking for a career change. For example, a teacher who wants to move into the business world. There are also senior internships where both younger employees and an experienced intern can learn from each other.
“Hiring interns is a cost effective way to meet both immediate and long-term human resource needs.”
PROPEL Professional Practice and Experiential Learning
University of Cincinnati

Step 4: Take time to mentor your interns

When the intern arrives, take the time to set the tone by making introductions and letting them know how their work fits into the big picture. Adapt your new employee onboarding process as needed for your intern. Plan out projects ahead of time. Be a supportive, present manager who provides guidance and feedback throughout the internship.

If your intern enjoys the position, performs the job well, and is coachable, you may have found a future employee! They may return for a job after graduation, and you will have the advantage of having seen the former intern work. And as a new hire, they will need less on-the-job training which equates to a stronger employee who is ready to work.

Step 5: Know the laws

Determine if you will offer a paid vs. unpaid internship. Certain criteria must be met for an internship to be unpaid and excluded from your payroll program. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, an unpaid internship must provide educational training and be for the benefit of the intern, who is not necessarily entitled to a job at the close of the experience.

Learn the laws for temporary or seasonal workers before you hire any interns. For example, you will need to complete the IRS payroll forms and any other required employment forms for new employees.

Save time

When creating an internship program, you can use timesaving tools like this list, and find additional suggestions online. Spend a little time setting up the internship program before your intern arrives, and you will set yourself up for a successful experience.

Where will you track the intern’s hours and payroll records? In your full service payroll software from Patriot! The Time & Attendance software for small business allows your intern to enter their hours themselves from any Internet-accessible device. Try it for free!

Updated from original post on May 22, 2013

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