Have a project you can't get done? Consider an Intern

Posted on 10/27/2016 by Robin Scheu

Have a project you can’t seem to get done? Consider an intern!

There are lots of good reasons to hire an intern. Interns are smart, eager to learn, and offer a fresh perspective on your business. They may become a future employee. And they can also help you complete that project you’ve been putting off because you haven’t had time to get to it.

Many colleges offer internship programs and we’re very fortunate to have Middlebury College right here in Addison County. Their Center for Careers & Internships (CCI) staff works with both students and businesses to create successful matches. They are committed to producing a one-stop, results-oriented recruiting experience for your business.

What makes a great internship? The CCI says:

  • Training and orientation to ensure the student is set up for success
  • Challenging projects with meaningful impact (not “make work”)
  • Opportunity to interact with others in the organization
  • A safe and productive working environment that fosters professionalism and ethical conduct

How can a business owner or supervisor help create a good internship experience? According to the CCI, the program works best when the supervisor can:

  • Assist in the development of clear goals and objectives for the project and a specific plan to meet them.
  • Provide a structured list of the intern’s expected responsibilities and explain how the intern will be evaluated.
  • Meet with the intern regularly to provide guidance and constructive feedback.

As a general rule, you should be willing to provide a paid internship; however, it may not always be possible. At Middlebury College, there is some limited funding available. To find out more about how to hire an intern from Middlebury College, follow these links for internships and employers.

However, there are reasons not to hire an intern, too. From a Forbes article, don’t hire an intern if:

  1. You need the “free labor.” An internship isn’t something to take lightly—you need to provide mentorship and training for the student or young professional in order for them to learn something. An intern should not be a replacement for a paid employee; however, they should have real goals and leave the opportunity with additional skills for their career.
  2. You’re too busy. If you know you won’t be a good intern supervisor, don’t bring on interns. Unless you can dedicate much of your time to training and mentorship, it won’t be a beneficial experience for either party.
  3. You don’t have any clear goals in mind for the program. Just because you need additional help does not mean you should hire interns. Instead, you can consider hiring temporary employees or contractors to help with your workload. If you do want to bring on interns, consider what goals you’d like them to reach by the end of the internship period.

Have you considered hiring interns before? Will you in the future? Why or why not?