Hire an Intern Today (But for the Right Reasons)

They’re enthusiastic and full of fresh perspectives.

They have the latest tech skills and are social-media savvy.

They’re willing to learn from the ground up and eager to help in any way they can.

They can even serve as brand advocates, by sharing their great work experiences with friends and family.

These are just a few of the many reasons you should hire an intern. Even better? An internship provides a proving ground for smart, hard-working newbies to show you what they’re made of. While they’re demonstrating their skills and work ethic, you can assess how well they perform – and determine if they could be your next star employees.

But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.

While an internship program can offer great benefits, it also has its risks. And frankly, some businesses just aren’t suited for internships – here’s why:

Interns aren’t “free labor.”

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is cracking down on unpaid internships to discourage employers from having interns work for free. To be considered a true internship (and not an employment relationship), the following guidelines must be met:

  • The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
  • The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
  • The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
  • The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
  • The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
  • The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

Source: Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under the Fair Labor Standards Act

The business must be equipped to manage the program responsibly.

Establishing and executing a compliant internship program is a significant undertaking. Training, supervising and mentoring an intern requires substantial time and effort, all of which must be factored into the equation.

Unlike an experienced new hire, an intern will likely not have worked in a real-world environment. They may need regular coaching and attention as they are developing basic skills (e.g., composing professional correspondence, managing their time effectively, etc.). And in some cases, the work interns complete may have to be revised or re-done.

An employer’s primary goal should be to teach the intern, rather than to benefit from the intern’s presence. Organizations unable to commit extensive resources to correctly manage an internship program should proceed with caution.

Is your business suited for an internship program?

Only you can decide. But before you proceed, consider:

  • the work they will do;
  • how you will help them learn;
  • how your organization stands to benefit from their work;
  • and whether or not you have the resources to properly manage them.

Get the help you need – without the risk and commitment you don’t.

Temporary employees are a great alternative to interns. If you want to bring fresh perspective to your company’s challenges, tackle special projects or focus on more strategic priorities, contact your local PrideStaff office to learn more.