Getting the right staff when you are starting a business is essential. For many startups, providing an internship can be one of the best staffing solutions. In this guest post, Patrick Ross from Volume Marketing interviews Andrew Scherer, Director of Communications at Inspiring Interns and writer of Brilliant Intern and finds out all about running a successful internship programme
What are the key benefits of having an intern programme for a start-up? Hiring a new member of staff is a big step for any start-up. Interns are able to bring a different perspective to your company than an employee that already has experience in your industry and are likely to have an inherent understanding of important new technologies such as social media and mobile. They can make a difference to your office environment as well as assisting in the work of regular staff members. Running an internship programme gives you a way to hire untrained staff at lower risk. By employing an intern you can see how they work with your business before you hire them permanently. Structure their employment period to ensure they understand the nature of a full time job in your industry. It means you can view a candidate from a potential perspective. This gives you more freedom to pick a candidate that isn’t expected to “hit the ground running”. If you think that a period shadowing a full time member of staff will transform them into a stellar employee you can take that opportunity with internships.
What are the legalities of hiring an intern? The legality issues surrounding internships are largely associated with payment. If an intern is relied upon for key areas of your business and is completing tasks unsupervised, then they would be classed as a worker and would need to be paid at least the National Minimum Wage. If the interns you hire generally complete tasks under close supervision and spend a large proportion of their time shadowing full-time employees then they can be considered volunteers. If this is the case the employer only needs to cover the costs of travel and lunch for the intern.
Structuring your internship programme To make sure you get the most out of your internship programme you need to provide a structure for the duration of the placement, which at the very least should be a rough outline of which areas the intern will be working on while they are with you. A member of staff should be responsible for the intern who can review any work completed and offer regular, formal guidance and feedback. A structured placement doesn’t only help the candidate, but it helps you establish the potential of your intern. If you don’t manage your interns placement you won’t get as much out of it as you’d like. The intern will likely suffer from demotivation and it will end up being a waste of time for both intern and employer.
How do you source the best candidates for your intern programme? To fill an intern position the methods are the same as standard role. The best methods for filling a position are advertising the position yourself or using an agency. Advertising Posting an internship to a job board will roughly resemble a full time position. It’s important that when you post an internship role to a job board, or brief a recruitment consultant, you should include the following: An unpaid internship should not be longer than 3 months. If you intend to run the internship for a period shorter than this include it in the job description Most interns will be in the office for similar hours to those of a normal employee but bear in mind that unpaid interns are free to come and go as they please. Any advertisement should not list set shift patterns or enforceable working hours. Whether you are offering any salary or expenses. If the position does not have a salary be sure to include the likelihood of the position turning into a full time job. It is also valuable to mention the kind of projects they will be involved in and who they will be expected to answer to. A prospective intern will be more likely to apply if the role structured well. If you put yourself in their shoes, you don’t want to be one of the interns that don’t gain anything from an internship. If you can help them understand what the internship will entail in the job board post the response will be much better. Agencies Internship agencies will take control of the recruiting situation, from advertising the position to providing you with candidates to interview. Agencies come at a fee, which may not be to everyone’s taste, but they will have experience in finding the best. Inspiring Interns monitor their intern placements and provide support and guidance throughout both the hiring process and the internship itself. If an intern isn’t happy or isn’t meeting the job specification they can provide alternative candidates at no extra charge.
You can visit the Inspiring Interns site if you want know more about internships. You can review the kind of internships on offer to get an idea of job specs and review video CVs of interns.