How to Successfully Hire Interns

An internship is beneficial to the hiring company and the intern. When you hire an intern, you get the help you need in your office. The intern gets the real-world experience that can make a significant difference in their upcoming career. And, of course, you also gain first-hand knowledge of who could be a star hire for you in the future.

What is an internship?

When hiring an intern, you’re gaining an extra pair of hands on a short-term assignment. The employer provides supervised work experience, giving the intern the opportunity to discover how their education fits into the real world of work and helping them to learn new skills in a workplace environment.

However, if you think it’s a way to get cheap labor, you’re wrong. You’ll be expected to provide a structured educational experience. Often, the intern will gain credits toward their college grades.

Things to Consider Before Hiring an Intern

There are many benefits of hiring an intern. The extra pair of hands will reduce workload within your team, of course, but in addition to this an intern program could help you ‘road test’ and coach your next generation of leaders by giving mentorship responsibilities to current permanent employees.

If you are considering hiring a permanent employee, an intern may become a potential candidate. Like a temp-to-hire.

Your intern may also bring innovative ideas and fresh thinking – they are likely to have studied the latest theories and best practices. And, of course, a successful intern program can breed an army of brand advocates for your business.

While hiring an intern can deliver many benefits, you should also consider the commitment you must make in the program. It requires planning, and is often time-consuming. While the intern will free up time for employees to do challenging tasks, employees will also need to spend time with the intern, coaching them to complete their own tasks effectively.

You’ll need to ensure you hire an intern who is as fully committed to their development as you are, and you’ll need to consider the added cost of the extra employee.

7 Steps to Hire an Intern

These seven steps should help you to develop a successful intern program and hiring strategy:

Step 1: Understand Your Intern Program Goals

List the goals for your internship program; for example:

  • Do you need extra labor during a busy period or time when other staff are absent?
  • Do you need specific skillsets to help with certain projects or teams?
  • Do you want to develop interns as ambassadors in a graduate recruitment drive?

Step 2: Plan Your Intern Program

Now that you understand your program’s goals, you should plan your intern program:

  • How long will the program need to be?
  • How many interns should be hired?
  • On what project will interns work?
  • Which teams will the interns work with?
  • How much will you pay, and will you provide other benefits or rewards?

You goal here is to develop a clearly defined, well-structured program in which your whole team knows what is expected so that they can start preparing for their roles in the intern program.

Step 3: Create an Ideal Intern Profile

Very few interns will have specific industry experience. Have an ideal intern, as you would an ideal candidate for a specific job role, but allowing for the lack of experience:

  • What they are majoring in?
  • Their soft skills?
  • If they have any research experience?
  • If they have any relevant hard skills through their tuition?

Don’t forget, too, to request references from their lecturers and professors.

Step 4: Design a Standardized Pre-Hire Evaluation Process

How will you evaluate potential interns? Just as you would when making a permanent hire, develop a process to assess all candidates equally.

Step 5: Advertise the Internship

To attract the widest pool of applicants for your internship; advertise widely. To attract the best candidates, target  intern ads effectively:

  1. Connect with colleges

Colleges welcome partnerships with industry. You might consider offering your expertise to the college, taking part in career fairs, and offering to meet with students to discuss their interests.

  1. Connect through social media

Make it part of your social media strategy to discuss your intern programs on your social media. Shine a light on your current interns, and let others see what they could gain from an internship with you. If you don’t connect directly with a potential intern, those who follow you may know of a graduate who is seeking such an opportunity.

  1. Start a referral program

Your current interns can be an invaluable source of referrals. The happier and more fulfilled they are with their internship, the more likely they are to refer you to others they know. By giving a reward for a successful referral, you will encourage your interns to refer you to their friends.

  1. Advertise online

Advertising online, on jobs boards and on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to ask colleges if you can advertise on their jobs board – and place the intern ad role on your own website.

  1. Speak to your staffing agency

Many students register with staffing agencies when they are seeking to break into the world of work for the first time. An agency that fills a high number of entry-level jobs can be a crucial source of potential interns for your organization.

Step 6: Interview Effectively

How will you conduct interviews? What process will you follow? Do you plan to screen by phone first, or conduct virtual or in-person interviews from the get-go?

You’ll need to devise an interview strategy, plan interviews, and ensure that your interviewers treat each candidate similarly. A standardized scoring method will help you remove unconscious bias and ensure that you deliver a shortlist of the best candidates.

Step 7: Stay HR Legal

Throughout the hiring process adhere to the employment law. For example, some organizations are allowed to hire unpaid interns. Do you know if you fall within this category? Perhaps you fall into a category in which it is illegal to offer paid internships. Make sure you are fully acquainted with the employment laws that affect how you can hire interns.

The Bottom Line

Internships should be good for the employer and the intern. They can help boost your profile and brand as an employer, and identify potential long-term hires, as well as provide a valuable source of cost-effective labor.

An effective intern program will provide the intern with valuable work experience, help them relate their learning to the workplace, and give them with workplace skills that they could not gain at college.

Are you developing an intern program? Are you struggling to hire committed interns into your intern program?

For all your hiring needs, contact 6 Degrees Group today.

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