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Interns or Summer Help?

So you've hired a College Student. In the interview they came across bright, hungry and eager. You made them a fair offer, and after comparing your offer with some prospects from competing firms, they chose to come to work for you! Now they stand in your lobby, ready to take on the challenges you are sure to throw at them. To begin their journey of discovery, to validate that all those class hours are leading to a career that will fulfill them.

The only problem, you don't have a plan. You figured that you had enough work to keep an extra person busy for the summer, but that was it. Internships should be rewarding experiences for both the intern and the employee. Internships are a student's opportunity to explore the professional world of their chosen career, and experience your company's culture. For the employer, internships provide an opportunity to for a 2-3 month job interview, and the opportunity to secure the talent needed to propel the organization forward in the future.

If you have not planned for your intern(s), if you have not orchestrated a meaningful experience for them, then you have not hired interns, just summer help. There is nothing wrong with Summer help, like internships, it can be rewarding for both the employee and the employer. However, you owe it to yourself and your student hires to clarify what they are signing up for.

Consider the following when crafting an internship, to help you avoid simply hiring summer help:

  • Rotation makes an internship go 'round - Rotating an intern through various departments in the organization allows everyone to discover where the interns strengths and passions lie.

  • Train 'em up - Give your interns time for and access to structured training, discover how quickly they can pick up the information needed to be successful in your firm. Plus, if you hire them full time, you won't have to provide the training later at a generally higher cost.

  • Real world experience - Make sure that your interns get a realistic preview of what work with your firm will be like. No sense discovering that your intern loves the company but hates the work after they become an FTE.

  • Project success - If you have multiple interns, provide them with a challenge your business is facing, and ask them to solve it for you. At the end of their internship, let them present their solution.

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