Why Your Small Business Should Hire Interns img

Why Your Small Business Should Hire Interns

Over the last few years, a range of highly-publicized issues has surrounded internship programs and whether they are good for business and interns. Regardless of the issues, many small business owners have launched internships to create win-win situations for students entering the workforce and their businesses.

Like any other stage of business growth, internships present several challenges. As such, you should become familiar with these challenges before launching a program. Consider several items, such as the program’s purpose, your budget, legal and compliance requirements, and long-term goals. Below we look at the benefits of hiring interns and what to consider when starting a program.

Exactly What is an Internship Program?

An internship is a professional learning experience that offers meaningful, practical work related to a student’s field of study or career interest. An internship gives a student the opportunity for career exploration and development and to learn new skills. It offers the employer the opportunity to bring new ideas and energy into the workplace, develop talent and potentially build a platform for future full-time employees. 

A meaningful and effective internship consists of the following elements:

  • Offers a part-time or full-time work schedule that includes no more than 25% clerical or administrative duties
  • Provides a clear job/project description for the work experience
  • Orients the student to the organization, its culture, and proposed work assignments
  • Helps the student develop and achieve learning goals
  • Offers regular feedback to the student intern

You should note that an internship is NOT an opportunity for a company to save money by exploiting a student’s talents and contributions to the organization. In other words, an internship is not ‘cheap labor.’ 

Benefits of an Internship for Small Businesses

There are several practical benefits of starting an internship program.

1. Recruit from a Large Pool of Interns

An internship program can be a great strategy to build a candidate pool for future job openings. Students typically come into internships with little or no professional work experience. Although it may seem like a chore to train new workers in everything from database management to business etiquette, it’s a great opportunity to teach potential future hires to do things exactly the way you like them without having to worry about bad habits they’ve picked up at other jobs.

2. Test Interns As Potential Hires

You may benefit from internship programs by using them as a trial period for future full-time employment. Testing out prospective hires through on-the-ground training can be a streamlined way to find great employees and help you avoid hiring the wrong person for the role.

To determine whether to take on an intern as a permanent hire, employers should:

  • Examine output
  • Analyze quality of work
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses
  • Observe how they work on a team
  • Assess the intern’s career goals through open conversation

Once you’ve spotted star interns, you can help them develop into the ideal employee; work to cultivate their skills in all areas, particularly soft skills such as professionalism, communication, and attention-to-detail.

3. Internship Programs Increase Employee Retention Rates

Internships not only provide employers with a trial period but also help students to decide if your company—or even your field—is a good fit for them; those who complete an internship with a company before being hired for a full-time position are far more likely to stay. By improving retention rates, you can save significantly on recruitment costs. 

Finding new talent can be budget-busting, especially for a small business working within tight margins. Employers can shell out thousands of dollars to find just a single qualified candidate between advertising costs, in-house recruiter salaries, third-party recruiter fees, sign-on bonuses, and employee referral bonuses.

4. Interns Provide More Capacity To Your Current Team

An internship program may also help your current team reach its full potential by allowing your existing employees to pursue their professional development opportunities. Interns are an extra set of hands that can help workers with overly full schedules; they can take on projects and assist in various areas of your business, which frees up time for your existing workers to focus on development. 

Allowing interns to “learn by doing creates breathing room for current employees and improves retention rates. When staff havehas the time and energy to devote themselves to tasks that further their professional growth and add value to your business, everyone wins.

5. An Internship Program Can Create Awareness of Future Hires

To attract the best hires, you need a good way to get the word out about your business. Internship programs can be a great way to advertise the work your company does, your field, and the job opportunities available to new graduates.

By getting hands-on experience and telling their friends about it, interns can help you build a good reputation with fresh talent coming into the workplace. Internships can also help you build relationships with nearby schools and colleges. If you have a regular internship program, you may be able to attract talented interns through the school’s career office, thus building a steady current of talent for future hiring needs.

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