If your business (and workload) is growing, you may wonder if adding an intern to your staff is a good idea. It could be – if you think through what this process would entail. Here are a few questions to consider before making a decision.
What can you offer a potential intern?
An intern will come to your company hoping to expand his or her repertoire of skills and learn about your business. Think ahead about the types of projects you anticipate needing help with. Do you have enough work, short-term or ongoing, to keep someone busy? Would these projects be interesting or appealing to you if you were the intern? Be sure to ask potential candidates what their expectations of the experience will be as well.
What could an intern offer you?
The right intern can provide tech savviness, support to other staff and even a fresh perspective you may not know you’re lacking. If you like the idea of sharing your knowledge and expertise with someone new to your field, mentoring an intern could be something you really enjoy. Also, an intern who works out well might be someone you ultimately offer a full-time job to.
Do you, or someone on your team, have time to supervise an intern?
An intern will require more guidance and supervision than your regular employees – after all, they are by definition inexperienced. Have you thought through how you would pencil in this commitment? Or, do you have another employee who would be willing and interested to take on this responsibility? You may also want to factor in how your staff feels about having someone new on board who may be coming to them for assistance.
Will this internship be paid or unpaid?
If this is a paid position, how much can you comfortably afford to offer? If this is not a paid position, the intern is volunteering their time. How will you make the experience valuable enough for them to make it worth their while? (Are there perks you can offer that may make up for not providing a paycheck?)
What are the logistical matters to consider?
Do you have an extra desk, computer or any of the other basics the intern will require to do his or her job? Are there legal matters you need to work out – like tax implications or health insurance benefits? If this is the first intern you’re hiring, talk with fellow small business owners who have had some experience in this area for their guidance.
Internships have the potential to be a win-win situation for everyone involved – if you’re prepared. By establishing a clear idea of what you want to accomplish, and being realistic about what the relationship will require, starting an internship program at your company could be one of the best long-term decisions you make.
Susan Bryant is a writer and editor who enjoys working on diverse subject matter and collaborating on interesting projects. Currently she is the editor at Midwest Parenting Publications, which produces four parenting magazines: Indy’s Child, Hamilton County Family, Cincinnati Parent and Dayton Parent.