Suggestions for using an intern in your business

Participating Solution Provider

Suggestions for using an intern in your business


3934217_med.jpgLast time I talked about outsourcing some of your daily job functions to companies that specialize in that particular area. Now I’d like to discuss the idea bringing on a college intern to help with some of these duties especially for your marketing.


Many colleges require that graduates spend at least one semester working for a company as an intern. While I agree with that as it is a valuable experience for the student, I find many times the intern site doesn’t know what is expected of them. The rest of the time they look at the intern as a free source of labor where the intern doesn’t learn anything. Pretty sad seeing that the intern probably just paid for a 3 or 4 credit class  for that internship (they have to pay their school so they can work for free...seriously?).


What should you do with your intern?


  1. Sit down with your intern and find out what goals they have for their internship. Many choose an intern site based on a weakness in their education. When choosing my site I decided I wanted to work for a printer. I knew how to design but didn’t know what happened to my piece after I sent it to the printer for printing. It’s like it got lost in a black hole.
  2. Decide if this is a paid or unpaid internship. There are students who can’t afford to work for free. Some see what they learn as their pay. If possible try to pay the current minimum wage. The Department of Labor has specific rules regarding this. Basically unless you are a government agency or a non-profit you need to pay your intern.
  3. Set some type of schedule. Many intern programs have a minimum number of hours they need to put into the program. It helps if they intern has a schedule with set hours per week. My internship required about 16 hours per week. Some weeks I worked 30 hours and some only 5. This was difficult for me as I was running my own marketing communications company plus taking two additional classes. At one time I worried if I was going to get the required 120 hours at the end of the eight weeks because some weeks had really low hours. This leads to #4.
  4. Internships are not set up for you to manage the peaks and valleys in your production work. You don’t schedule your intern based on your backlog of work. This probably defeats their goals outlined in #1. When it is slow it’s a great time to train your intern in other areas.
  5. Interns know they are not entitled to a job after their internship. But, if chosen carefully and trained properly you just may find your next employee who has been trained in your business.

If you’re not sure about compliance with the government the Department of Labor has specific rules regarding internships. By following these guidelines the internship program can be a win-win for your business and the intern you brought into your business.

Kym Johnson
KSJ Marketing Communications
Offering marketing advantages for small businesses
Toll-free (844) 575-6584
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