Small Business Hiring Guide

23. How to Hire Interns

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Running A Business

How to Hire Interns

May 25, 2023 • 6 min read
Group of young interns
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      Hiring an intern can allow your company to tap into fresh talent. However, the process can be complex depending on what your needs are. You will want to create a well-thought-out internship program that benefits not only your organization, but also the interns who will be working for you.

      Determining how to hire the best interns in your field is important. You will want to attract talent that will boost your company and provide a learning experience for all individuals involved.

      Determine what your interns will work on.

      First, you need to determine what you want interns to do within your organization. Most interns are tasked with a project, rather than thrown into ongoing work. This gives them a sense of accomplishment with a project that clearly has a beginning and an end. You should consider assignments that require specific skills that can be mastered within a short period of time, such as over a summer internship.

      Decide if you will hire a paid or unpaid intern.

      There are generally two types of internships: paid and unpaid. Unpaid internships are often used by nonprofits and organizations that comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) internship guidelines. Paid internships must comply with federal wage laws, as well. There are some states, such as Michigan and Minnesota, that allow for a lower “training wage” that applies to some interns. You need to determine which type of internship will work best for the individuals you want to hire.

      Paid interns can be paid through a set stipend for a period of time or with an hourly rate. According to ZipRecruiter, interns usually earn between $10 and $17 per hour. However, certain industries require higher wages if interns are expected to have advanced skills or higher education. An internship stipend may be paid at any time during the period of hire, oftentimes at the end of the project. For example, you may offer an intern a $2,500 stipend to be paid once an application has been developed and is running in beta test mode.

      Look for interns through various sources.

      There is an array of sources that you can use to find interns. You might use online databases for job seekers, such as Indeed or You can also reach out to local colleges, trade schools, and universities to find a student intern who is looking for valuable work experience. Some employers prefer to work with recruiters to find all employees, even interns. While a recruiter will minimize the amount of time that you, personally, have to invest in finding an intern, it will cost you. Recruiters can be expensive.

      Find an intern with the characteristics you want.

      Once you have decided what type of work the intern will do and how much they will be paid, you should make a list of characteristics that the intern should possess to accomplish these tasks. You should consider education, experience, and other typical new-hire characteristics. You might also want to find someone who fits well with your company’s culture.

      Review resumes and interview top candidates.

      Review resumes that you receive or find on job boards. This can be a complex and daunting task. However, it’s important to thoroughly review resumes before you dedicate time to an interview. The interview process can take up the time of multiple people within an organization, and you don’t want anyone to feel like you’ve wasted their time—the potential intern, your HR team, managers, or executives.

      Most initial interviews take place via phone or video call these days. You can often learn a lot from someone with a quick 15- to 20-minute conversation. This amount of time allows you to tell them about the organization and learn why they are interested in the internship. Later interviews may take place in the office or with multiple people at once.

      Hire the best intern for your company.

      Once you sift through the pile of resumes and conduct interviews, choose the best candidate for the job. It’s important to have an internship agreement that is tailored to the specific work that the intern will be doing. The internship agreement can be facilitated through a student’s school or completed individually if they are not in school. Make sure the agreement clearly lists whether the internship is paid or unpaid, as well as expectations for project outcomes. The agreement, which is similar to an employment contract, should be signed by all parties.

      Determine the intern’s work schedule.

      Since interns typically have not had as much work experience as long-term professionals, they often need some guidance regarding work schedules. You need to decide if the position is remote or in-office. You also need to determine if there is a flexible schedule, part-time work, or full-time hours. This may be best decided once you hire an individual and learn about their scheduling needs. Employers must often be more flexible with interns, who are often taking classes at the same time as they are working an internship.

      In most cases, unpaid internship schedules align with an academic calendar. They are often offered as course credits, as well. Paid internships have more flexibility regarding scheduling. Some companies opt for a year-long, full-time internship, often for a foreign graduate student. However, the employer would need to pay a living wage and help coordinate housing, transportation, and other costs like healthcare.

      Find an intern that works well for your company.

      Finding the best intern for your company can be challenging, but the outcome can also be rewarding. You will build your brand, develop a pipeline for talent, and bring fresh perspectives to your process.

      Lendio is here to help with all your small business needs. Learn more about how Lendio can help support your internship program.

      About the author
      Brandy Abalos

      Brandy Abalos is a licensed attorney, content strategist, and marketing consultant for small businesses. She uses SEO tools to develop strong digital content for audiences who are learning how to navigate complex topics in law and business. When she is not writing, she seeks adventures with her three children, partner, and two corgis in Ohio.

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