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Welcome to Recruiter Q&A, where we pose employment-related questions to the experts and share their answers! Have a question you’d like to ask? Leave it in the comments, and you might just see it in the next installment of Recruiter Q&A!

Today’s Question: Most Q&As on internships are aimed at the interns themselves, but this one is geared toward the employers who may one day want to bring aboard an intern or two. What would you want them to know about internships and internship programs before they hired their first intern? Share the good, the bad, and the ugly of overseeing interns!


David1. You Can’t Let Them Get Bored

Make sure the intern is not bored! Sometimes the hard thing to do is keep the intern busy. As much as you don’t want to run them into the ground, you definitely do not want them to be bored. Challenge them. Give them responsibility. Do not bore them.

David Didier, The Lifestyle Project

bill2. Your Job Is to ‘Pay It Forward’

I like to think about the phrase ‘pay it forward’ when it comes to interns. You are trying to help these soon-to-be college graduates get ready for the business world. [Internships] are a great way for students to figure out what vertical they want to get involved in and try different things before they step out into the real world. I feel that, if we can help the next generation get their foot in the door, we are helping society — and that is always a good thing.

Bill Fish, ReputationManagement.com

Diane3. You Have to Give Your Interns Guidance

It’s important to provide ongoing guidance to interns once they are on board, as many look for learning opportunities that will serve as building blocks for future career success. This makes appointing a mentor an important component of your program. Mentors can provide insight on corporate protocol, make introductions to key contacts, and give interns an insider’s perspective on the business.

Diane Domeyer, The Creative Group

Miles4. Don’t Forget the Basics

We’ve had excellent luck with interns. Our interns have been some of the most dedicated employees: working hard, working long, and with an intense desire to learn and grow. But in some cases, it was the first time that they worked anywhere, in any professional setting. I remember an intern asking if he should come in on Saturday and another asking whether they were going to be paid at all. It’s easy to forget to talk about the basics of employment. Review hours, schedule, dress, contact expectations, and salary once or twice at the beginning of the internship.

Miles Jennings, Recruiter.com

Jonathan5. Remember to Make the Program Valuable — to the Interns

I feel like many companies lack a good understanding of what internships and interns are. An intern is hired to learn, not to make endless copies and go on coffee runs.

If you have nothing valuable to offer for your internship or internship program, don’t implement one. You’ll be doing both parties involved a favor. Internship programs aren’t easy at all. It takes work to pull one off. If you don’t take it seriously, your internship program will suffer. You need to take time to develop a training program. It can be labor-intensive, but getting everyone on the same page up front is key to your program’s success.

Jonathan Ceballos, USB Memory Direct

Cathleen6. You Should Really Pay Your Interns

Be very wary of an unpaid internship. Interns need to make money, too. The Fair Labor Standards Act eyes keep a close eye on unpaid internships. Also, your likelihood of attracting top talent to your internship diminishes when it is unpaid.

Cathleen Snyder, strategic HR, inc.

Patrice7. Let Your Interns Sink or Swim (a Little Bit)

Give interns tough projects and let them sink or swim. Like peeling onions, each new assignment reveals hidden skills and aptitudes that your interns either didn’t know they possessed or didn’t think to tell you about. Creating a unique experience for interns will set you apart — just be prepared for the work involved.

Patrice Lee, Generation Opportunity

Jennifer8. Exit Interviews Are Important!

Conduct exit interviews whenever an internship draws to an end. Not only will it help you summarize what was accomplished during the program, but also it can give you an overview of what worked and what didn’t. Interns have a unique perspective in the workplace and can give constructive feedback. They can help you make either the workplace or the program much better.

Jennifer Magas, Magas Media Consultants, LLC


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