Internship 101 – Summer Interns

Internship 101 – Summer Interns

I see people on Facebook requesting interns for the summer. One business announced that it has open positions for 24 trainees. Really – does your business really need 24 interns? How can it be working now without those logs being filled? Do you have staff that can realistically manage 24 trainees? Let’s talk about internships.

Internship 101 - Summer Interns
Internship 101 – Summer Interns

What Aren’t They

Interns are not gophers or jacks of all trades who do the dirty work that no one wants to do. Using their degree, they are looking for ways to gain essential skills that will help them be employable after graduation. I recommend doing a job search to see what other employers expect when applying for a job similar to what your intern is looking for. Help your intern gain these skills.

Internship 101 – Summer Interns

Don’t expect an accounting intern to answer phones and make photocopies. They should be working at closing with your accountant or accountant. Unless you’re currently hiring a pastry chef, you wouldn’t offer a pastry chef an internship if you have a real estate office, and that person is overseen by the pastry chef. If you’re looking for an office manager intern, then be sure to contact a college that has an office manager program or interview potential interns who are office management majors.

Paid or Unpaid Internships

Unpaid internships are almost unheard of today. An online search will reveal many lawsuits against high profile Universities and Businesses for abusing interns and not paying them a fair wage. You’ll want to know what the policy is for your state. North Carolina Universities offer paid internships, as do various government agencies. Know the rules of your state and the state in which the student is a student.

I had an intern from the state of Minnesota in 2011, and there was a block in my intern contract for me to check for “free”. However, to show my appreciation, I periodically rewarded him with gift cards to various restaurants and clothing stores.

If you’re near a military base with a Wounded Warrior Program, you can request a trainee. These interns are free for your job because the intern gets a paycheck from Uncle Sam. For a short time, I personally had a managerial intern at my company. You should keep in mind that these interns can be discharged at any time and will probably need to go to their doctor’s appointments. You will need to be flexible.

Internship 101 – Summer Interns

Job Description: Be very specific about working hours and specific tasks. The person may only need to work on a particular project. Write the job description clearly, such as a job announcement or job description for an employee.

Review resumes: Ask applicants to provide a resume. Verify their success. Don’t feel obligated to take on someone who isn’t a good fit. To train the person or to teach the person a skill i.e. web design, social media management etc. You will take the time to let it develop. Ask for references and contact them. Treat this as you would when hiring a permanent employee. Asking for a resume and references will help the trainee prepare for a post-internship job search.

Internship 101 - Summer Interns
Internship 101 – Summer Interns

Internship 101 – Summer Interns

Interview: Be prepared to interview applicants and ask for references. Ask the person what he expects to gain from the internship. This could be the intern’s first job interview. Help them learn from this experience. Don’t be afraid to say “no”. If the intern isn’t a good fit for your job, offer a few referrals for her to contact. Explain to the intern why they are not a good fit for your job. Don’t let them leave you wondering. Develop their self-confidence.


After your interview, choose one or two goals for your intern. The trainee and their mentor will also have goals for the trainee. Be conscious of this and respect the goals the college or university has for the trainee. On the paperwork, you will need to list the milestones and how the student will achieve the milestones and goals for the internship.

Internship 101 – Summer Interns

Intern Policy

You will need a trainee policy. This is similar to the list of rules in your employee handbook. At a minimum, you will want to include information such as: Internship 101 – Summer Interns

• Working hours
• Work Uniform – Dress Code
• Confidentiality agreement
• Non-Compete Agreement – do this regardless of whether your state supports Non-Compete Agreements
• Cell Phone Policy


They will also have paperwork you need to sign for their college or university.

Internship 101 – Summer Interns


After the internship, you may decide to offer your intern a paid job. If you and your intern view the internship as a success, it’s a win-win situation. Remember, interns are in your business to learn, so you decide what to expect when hired by you or another business owner.

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