Hiring Summer Interns: How to Hire the Right Ones for Your Business

The process of hiring summer interns starts long before the summer season arrives. Most college students find themselves ready to start an internship as early as May and sometimes applying for some of the most competitive internships as early as January or February.

If you’re thinking about hiring summer interns, there are a few things to consider, and finding the right ones can seem near impossible. You want to have an internship program that offers interns the chance to learn and explore a possible career while also helping your business get things done.

A survey of interns performed by WayUp found that the programs that interns rated highest were the ones that provided them with the greatest opportunities for learning, CNBC reported. Luckily, creating an environment where your interns can learn can be done no matter the size of your company.

Any business, big or small can attract those coveted and eager summer interns. In fact, for an intern, a smaller environment can sometimes mean more responsibility and insight, and more time with the customer, said Rich Razgaitis, CEO of FloWater, a San Francisco-based startup that’s focused on eliminating single-use plastic water bottles. At a startup or small business, an intern can squeeze six to 10 months of experience into just a four-month span, getting involved in responsibilities they may not have the opportunity to work on in a bigger corporation.

If you’re considering hiring summer interns for your business, read on to find out if your business is right for interns, how to find qualified prospects, and, of course, how to hire a summer intern.

hiring summer interns

Hiring Summer Interns: Is Your Company the Right Fit?

Okay, so small businesses in general can be successful in attracting summer interns, but what about your business? Here are some steps to take before hiring summer interns to make sure your company can offer a good experience:

  1. Take time to evaluate specific responsibilities that can be defined and allocated, so that your interns are focused on completing work that’s beneficial to your business. You want to make sure your team remains productive and on-task while onboarding short-term help. Also, think about whether the work you need to do would be fulfilling and rewarding for a college student who’s interested in your industry.
  2. Think about the length of the assignment. If it’s too short, it may not be worth your efforts, considering the overhead of defining the role, interviewing, hiring, training, completing paperwork, and other attendant responsibilities. On the other hand, if you have a project that can be completed in just two or three months, an intern might be the perfect person to take it on.
  3. Consider your plan for compensation. Do you want to look into offering college credit for the internship? Or compensate at a rate that works best for your business’s budget? It’s rare that an intern would be looking for an opportunity with little to no return in those terms, Razgaitis advises, so evaluate if your business finances can handle hiring a summer intern.

Hiring Summer Interns: Decide How You Will Compensate Them

“Like anything else, aligning a person’s motivations with rewards after finding really great talent is the key,” Razgaitis says. And besides the return via compensation or school credit, “They want coaching, experience, and learning exposure. It needs to be a mutual value creation.”

A good intern is looking for an opportunity to learn about their field and develop new skills they can use to hopefully land a full-time job. He or she wants to be part of a team; a chance to show off his or her talents and prove the ability to take something on, do a great job, and execute.

No matter how you choose to pay an intern—in pay compensation or credit compensation—you must legally pay your intern in some way. In only the most specific circumstances is it legal to not pay interns. Otherwise, you’ll need to at least pay minimum wage. However, average intern salaries across all degree levels are typically higher.

hiring summer interns

Hiring Summer Interns: Where to Find Them

Hiring summer interns is pretty similar to taking steps to hire a full-time employee. You’ll need to write a job description with concrete explanations, including examples of what your intern will be doing for your small business. With details about the length of the program, the job itself, what they can expect to learn, and compensation.

If you think you could be in the market for a summer intern, take a peek at some of these sites and places that could help you with hiring summer interns:

  1. Internships.com – Post, access a resume database, and receive tools on running a successful internship program for free. You can click over to the “For Employers” section of the site and upload an internship job description for free or check out the resources for those hiring interns.
  2. Collegerecruiter.com – For $75 you can post an internship job listing to the site where potential interns will see it upon searching for opportunities. The listing will stay live for 30 days; and if you’re looking to hire several interns on an ongoing basis, there are other job listing plans, as well.
  3. Career Services Departments at local colleges are also a great resource for hiring summer interns. Depending on the school, they might be able to post your intern job description and direct you to some candidates who are studying your industry. Sometimes you can also form a relationship with them and work together to fill the position.
  4. Attend Job Fairs – You could also try finding summer interns by getting out of the office and visiting local colleges to talk to students. Some colleges will also offer job fairs where you can offer information about your internship to interested students.
  5. Social Media – Utilize your small business’s social media accounts—they’re for more than just social media marketing. Your Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn accounts for your business all connect you to local customers who might be in the market for an internship or know someone who is. You can post information about the position or you can post a link to a full listing on another site like Indeed.

Hiring Summer Interns: Once You Find the Candidates

When you find a few good candidates for your summer internship, conduct the hiring process just as you would if you were looking to hire a full-time employee. You want to spend time talking with them to learn about their experience and interests and to make sure that what they’re looking for aligns with what your business needs. You will also want to decide how you will classify your intern for your business tax purposes—depending on their hours and compensation, they can be classified as employees, volunteers, or independent contractors. You will need to decide which of these best applies to your interns.

If you can find an absolutely stellar summer intern—and reward them with interesting work—you might be able to hire them full-time when they graduate. This would be a huge plus for you because you could end up with an employee who is already vetted and fully onboarded with your business. This would also save you money, because hiring can be an expensive process.

Hiring Summer Interns: The Bottom Line

Hiring summer interns is a great way to find and train good talent while offering students interested in your industry the opportunity to learn and further their career development. Plus you might end up getting a full-time employee out of it if they turn out to be an asset to your team and your business is able to add a full-time employee.

If you put some time and effort into providing a great internship experience and finding the right candidate, both your business and the intern will be better off in the long run.

Christina Haberstroh

Christina is a small business contributor for Fundera and has experience covering finance, small business news and happenings, and has launched a small business herself.
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