Seasons in the Sun

As we head into summer, all signs point to an improving economy. Are you expecting your business to ramp up as well? If so, do you have enough personnel to handle an uptick in sales? Despite the expectation of sunnier days ahead, I’m guessing most of you aren’t quite ready to add full-time or even part-time employees.

By Rieva Lesonsky, Founder and President of GrowBiz Media

As we head into summer, all signs point to an improving economy. Are you expecting your business to ramp up as well? If so, do you have enough personnel to handle an uptick in sales? Despite the expectation of sunnier days ahead, I’m guessing most of you aren’t quite ready to add full-time or even part-time employees.

Summer Interns

Depending on the tasks you need handled, interns can provide at least a temporary solution. First, however, you need to understand upfront that interns are not there to fetch coffee or run personal errands. They sign on with your company to learn more about your industry, to get actual work experience, and/or to earn college credits.

Your first stop in your search for interns should be at local colleges and universities. Many have formal internship programs. Check with the placement office at these local schools (and don’t forget junior colleges, or if appropriate, local high schools) to see if you can establish a relationship with them. Most university programs require the employers to offer “substantial” work and periodically fill out paperwork.

One caution: Don’t think of interns as “free” help. More and more states are requiring that interns be paid at least minimum wage. Even if your state is not one of these, businesses need to follow new guidelines issued by the Department of Labor, which ensures that the work offered meets specific educational requirements.

Interns can offer your business a fresh perspective. Take advantage of their views and include the interns in brainstorming sessions and other meetings. In certain areas, these college students might know more than you and your staff. Interns can be very helpful, for instance, if you need help designing websites, creating blogs or expanding your social media presence.

If you’re lucky, you might find a talented intern who could keep working for you after classes resume in the fall. But the benefits are not just short term.
Think of adding an internship program in your business as creating a hiring pipeline. Over the years, I’ve actually hired quite a few interns for full-time positions. After all, you’ve already invested the time in training them for the job—and you’ve likely already passed the employer-employee compatibility test.