Young Female at the ComputerEvery season brings something different, and in addition to cooler weather, the fall brings you the opportunity to boost your staff without reducing your budget. Hiring an intern is a great way to take some of those mundane tasks off your list while possibly grooming your next employee.

Why Interns?

As a small business owner, you don’t have a lot of money, but you do have a lot of work. So while hiring a full-time employee isn’t always an option, hiring an intern is. Sure, it’ll take some training and hand-holding, but working with an intern provides many perks:

  • You can focus on running your business while they handle the admin or repetitive tasks
  • You get more done without stressing
  • You teach them the ropes, and if you like them,  you can hire them after the internship is complete
  • You get a free trial run with a potential employee!

Some colleges require you to pay at least a nominal salary to your intern, while others are nonpaid. Figure out which fits your budget.

Tips to Get Started

Before you hit up your local university or community college to find a willing young person to work for you for peanuts, decide what you want this intern to do. Remember: she’s trying to build out her professional work experience, so having her get your coffee each morning isn’t going to do her any favors.

Instead, think of the area you need the most help. That might be in managing your social media accounts, writing press releases, designing graphics, or helping out with administrative tasks. Once you pinpoint the area, decide on the tasks. Make a list of what needs doing in this area on a weekly basis (most interns will work just a few days in your office each week, so you want to boil down your list to what you need the most).

Now, flesh out exactly what needs doing, as well as how to do it. You’ll be training your new intern soon, but it helps to have a training document written in advance so you get your head around what you need, and can help that person learn the job quickly.

Now get in contact with your local college’s career center. They may direct you to a particular department related to what you need, like Marketing or Accounting. Find out how their internship program works and see if you’re a good fit. Send a job description and ask them to send you a few candidates.

Interview them, just as you would a full-time employee. You want the relationship to be mutually beneficial, and you also want to have a sense that this person is an eager and rapid learner.

On the Job

Once you’ve hired your intern, spend plenty of time with her in the beginning to get her comfortable with the work she’ll be doing. She likely will benefit from a bit of mentoring from you or someone on your team, so make time and energy to answer her questions and give her career advice.

If you love your intern, you probably won’t want to let her go! After she’s finished, talk to her about her interest in working with you further. If she doesn’t have time to commit to full-time work (or you don’t have the budget), consider a part-time or freelance option as well.

Having an intern at your company can help you expand without putting so much pressure on you.