Student internships can help small businesses thrive in so many ways that you might be missing out by not offering one at yours.
Regardless of your size, your years in operation, or what you do, prospective interns are looking for real-life, hands-on experience above all else, and small businesses are perceived as likely places to get that. This perception helps small enterprises like yours compete with larger corporations for the best and the brightest students despite having a less recognized name or a smaller budget for wages.
Helping Businesses Grow
- Identifying future employees who are a good fit. When a student has a good internship experience, it can build loyalty and help out with retention later on.
- Freeing up existing staff for other projects.
- Directing resources at projects that have never been started or have fallen by the wayside because no one else has had time.
- Offering new perspectives, ideas, and skill sets. Today’s students bring the latest technology, approaches, and ideas from the classroom into the business setting.
Also, the internship planning process typically encourages a deeper analysis of the business, which can reveal opportunities for efficiencies and other insights.
Due to a 2013 Fair Labor Standards Act court ruling, the days of unpaid internships largely are over-even when academic credit is given-but interns remain a cost-effective labor pool. Plus grants, federal/state programs, or other resources may be available to help cover wages.
There’s Plenty Interns Can Do
Concerned that you don’t have enough to keep an intern busy? Check out “251 Super Internship Projects” from SuperInterns.com. Ideas run the gamut from Accounts Payable/Receivable, Advertising, Client Development, an Employee Handbook, Event Management, and Green Initiatives to Social Media, Taxes, Trade Shows, and Web Design. Even attending a meeting or a conference can be a learning experience for an intern.
To help ensure success, consider how the internship will help the student gain useful skills and experience, not just how it will help your businesses. Put expectations in writing so everyone’s on same page. Get buy-in from existing staff who may be involved in mentoring/overseeing an intern.
Options for finding candidates include:
- School/college career services offices or individual departments
- Referrals from trusted colleagues and friends
- Chambers of commerce, business organizations, governmental/economic development organizations
- Online services such as Internships.com,InternMatch.com,
Whether you need more convincing or can’t wait to get started, check out the resources below on creating a program that maximizes returns for your business while providing an invaluable experience for tomorrow’s workforce.
Developing an Internship Program, Greater Baltimore Committee
Why Interns are Good for Business, NBCnews.com
FAQ and Guide on How to Hire Interns, InternMatch.com
How Can a Small Business Owner Create an Internship Program?, InternProfits.com