Employer Checklist: Should You Hire An Intern?

This post is part of an ongoing series, How to Hire Interns. Watch this space for frequent updates!

4668523686_e40f8ddd7cIf you’re new to the internship scene, you may have some reservations about undertaking a project like creating a program from scratch. Before you put in the legwork to find interns, it’s crucial to make sure that you’ve determined where and how a student fits into the company. Only after having “checked out” the situation will you be able to make informed decisions about shaping the internship program.

CheckDo you have projects or tasks that students could manage on their own?

Naturally, the defining feature of any internship is the work experience that the student gains during his or her time on the team. That said, if you’re seeking reinforcements for your overworked developers and require a programming wiz with five to seven years of experience, an intern probably won’t fit the bill. Speak with your management team and figure out where the slack is, and decide whether a high-performing student would have the technical and professional ability to pick up that slack. While internships call for supervision, guidance, and mentorship by their very nature, students should come into the position equipped with applicable knowledge.

CheckDo you have the resources to compensate, educate, and train your intern?

Sometimes employers are in the double bind of needing an intern workforce but not having the resources to support one. We always encourage paid internships, both because it’s the lawful course of action and because offering an hourly wage tends to kick the quality of the applicant pool up a notch—an important advantage, especially if you plan to convert interns into full-time hires. Besides offering financial compensation, companies who hire interns should spend time training interns to use the relevant programs and tools of the field, be it Salesforce or Draftboard.

CheckDo you have a designated intern supervisor?

 It doesn’t matter if your new intern is Jon Bon Jovi—even a rock star student will be a wasted advantage without proper management. Don’t fall prey to hiring interns without having designated a supervisor to assign tasks, set goals, and check in on progress through weekly one-on-one meetings. Without a solid program structure in place, interns bounce from task to task and clock in low-level work without owning their own projects.

Whether or not you should find an intern depends on the availability of meaningful work in your company and the accessibility to strong leadership. Because your intern cohort will be made up of extremely competitive students, make sure you’ve planned to exercise their skills while preparing them for more permanent work later on.

Image provided by nickb_rock under the Creative Commons license

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Nathan Parcells

Nathan Parcells is VP of Marketing and co-founder of Looksharp. He has spent the past decade helping students launch their career, researching best practices for hiring millennials (including running Looksharp's annual "State of College Hiring") and sharing these insights with employers. Nathan's work has been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, Business Insider and more. Outside of work, Nathan is an avid rock climber, back packer and Bob Dylan fan.