Recent Trends in Human Resource Management

Monday, March 3, 2008

How to Hire the Perfect Intern

Interns can be valuable resources for all employers. Don’t think that aspiring college and graduate students only flock to large employers when they’re looking for experience. If you have a project or well defined task, there’s an intern out there eager to tackle the assignment and bring enthusiasm and energy to the role.

Hiring interns is also a great way to find future employees. Whether or not the intern returns full-time, they can spread the word on campus to potential employees that you provide a great place to work.

But before you call the nearest college campuses, identify the work that needs to be done and the skills candidates will need. Specific tasks and types of companies are best suited for these short-term assignments. Research, systems, and project-management departments, tasks involving organization, and companies in the start-up phase or doing product launches all create good intern opportunities.

Decide who will manage the intern. This should be someone who can devote the time and patience to someone with potentially limited work experience.

The assignment and requirements are the starting point. Now you can use those for finding schools, or departments within a school, for recruiting. College guides will be useful in locating programs with specific majors that suit your needs. Alumni in your workplace can also be a great connection to the schools they attended.

Local institutions may be a logical starting point, but don’t think you have to stop there. Students from your neighborhood may be pursuing the major best suited for your needs at a school hundreds of miles away. The human resources intern for you is studying right now at Cornell ILR! There are limited internship opportunities for that budding HR specialist in Ithaca, New York.

Some schools have internship offices; others will refer you to career placement departments or specific faculty members. If the student is at a local school they may be available throughout the year. If an internship will be a break from a regular campus routine, ask about semester calendars. Don’t overlook high schools that have magnet programs in areas such as business, finance or healthcare with students eager to perform routine tasks to get a taste of the real world.

Many employers pay interns and some do not. Ask about wages paid by other employers who hire interns. If you are not prepared to provide payment or will be paying lower wages, the school will be able to tell you if this will keep applicants away. Creative additions to compensation will be welcome by students. As a college student I earned lunch and subway fare during a part time summer research project for a non-profit.

Find out if the student will be earning credit for the work experience. You may be asked to complete evaluations or follow up with professors. If you are using college interns to fill in regular spots, beyond project work, don’t flout wage and hour regulations by expecting them to work for free.

With the success of one intern, you will be able to build on the program to include interns as an asset and important part of your company culture.
Ref: Rebecca Mazin

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