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Want a summer intern? Now’s the time to be recruiting

Joyce Rosenberg

Small business owners who are thinking about hiring summer interns need to get busy — many young people are looking for opportunities now.

Many colleges and universities hold job fairs in the winter and early spring. But even if it’s too late for a company to take part in a fair, placement officials will welcome postings for internships.

Before contacting a school, an owner needs to think about what it will mean to the business to have an intern. Some owners think of interns in terms of temporary employees, but ideally, internships are aimed at helping young people get an introduction to a company or industry, and learn skills that will help them as they start their careers. Interns should have one or more mentors or guides to help them adjust and learn.

The process of writing a posting can help an owner formulate what the internship will entail. Some placement offices have guides to writing postings on their websites. The DePaul University College of Communication guide, for instance, says companies need to describe not only the prospective intern’s responsibilities, but also their learning objectives. It gives examples: “The ideal candidate will learn to write compelling online content,” and “Interns will gain experience in project and event management, public relations, and event logistics.” You can find the DePaul guide at https://bit.ly/2Iv0hdR , and a search of the internet will yield other schools’ guides.

An important decision is whether or not the intern will be paid. Many owners find that interns are more dedicated when they’re paid, and owners are also cognizant of the fact that young people may need some spending money. If an intern is unpaid, an owner needs to be sure the work they’re doing isn’t work that an employee could be doing — that could be a violation of federal labor laws.

Owners need to think about where an intern will work in the company’s premises and who will be their mentor, guide or buddy. Many interns may not have had prior work experience, so owners may have to be ready to set some limits and give some life lessons. And an owner needs to ask, do I have the time to devote to an intern?

Some owners hire the children of friends or business associates as their interns, or even family members. That route may help an owner save time on interviewing intern candidates, but as can happen anytime an owner hires someone they know, it can bring another set of complications.

Joyce Rosenberg is an AP business writer and licensed psychotherapist. For more small business news, insights and inspiration, sign up for a free weekly newsletter here: http://discover.ap.org/ssb.

About Joyce M. Rosenberg