When running a business such as an LLC, you may not have the funds to hire employees right away. For that reason, it may be wise to consider creating an internship program. But it can be difficult to set up an internship program where all parties involved benefit.
Times are changing — interns don't just make coffee runs anymore. If you want to get the most out of creating an internship program, you are going to want to set some expectations for the position.
Below you will find an internship program outline that lays the groundwork for how to set up an internship program that's effective for both your company and the people you bring on board.
1. Establish the Role You Need Filled
If you are considering implementing an internship program, you obviously need some help with your business. If you find your efforts are being spent doing various administrative roles, it might be beneficial to sit down and figure out how to set up a program where you can delegate some responsibilities to someone else.
The first thing you should do is figure out the role needing to be filled and how it will benefit you and the business. Is it marketing? Is it sales? Is it social media management? Is it administrative work? Take a deep dive into your business and get a good idea of where you need the most help.
2. Decide Who You're Looking For
When creating an internship program, decide who you are looking to bring on. Do you want to help out a college student and allow them to gain experience in a specific role? Or do you need to bring on someone who is looking for a job to prove their skills and become a full-time employee? Figuring out who that person needs to be is an extremely important step in this process.
3. Decide Whether to Offer Payment
How you decide to compensate your intern is completely up to you. While the position of an intern does not necessarily mean they must be paid, you may wish to do so.
However, you should understand what constitutes an employee and an intern. The Fair Labor Standards Act is a great place to learn about hiring employees. Some states require you to pay interns, so it would be wise to do some research on your state’s requirements so you comply.
With interns, you need to pay special attention to some of the criteria mentioned below if you're not choosing to compensate them financially:
- The role of the intern is not to take work from your paid employees
- Both you and the intern understand that there is no expectation to be paid for the intern’s services rendered and work completed
- At the end of the internship, there is no guarantee of employment or being hired by the company
4. Structure the Responsibilities
One of the main areas of focus when creating an internship program is structuring the responsibilities for interns. What will they be working on and completing on a daily basis? Do not bring on interns without some type of plan in place — that will lead to your time and theirs being wasted.
This is an important part of how to set up an internship that benefits everyone. You need to enter into the relationship knowing the expectations and roles, and so does your prospective intern. This also helps provide a good scope of work for interviewees, so they know exactly what is expected if they're brought on.
It may be that some responsibilities you have in mind can be serviced by another company very simply. For example, Incfile can help you with your business taxes, file your Annual Report, and even be your Registered Agent if necessary. Feel free to browse all the ways Incfile can help manage your company.
5. Begin the Interview Process
The next step in creating an internship program is the actual interview process. If you are looking to hire college students, work directly with universities to vet good candidates. The school can help advertise your opportunity and make students aware of how they can apply.
A program like this is a win-win for all parties: the college has their students gaining real-world experience, the students are gaining hands-on experience in a workplace, and you are getting help with your company's day-to-day operations.
Sit down with each candidate and ask them questions about their skills, their background, what they can offer to the company, why they want to intern at your business, etc. Spend some time really getting to know each candidate before you make your decision.
6. Select the Best Intern for the Position
The hiring process should be slow. It's true what they say: be slow to hire, but quick to fire. If speed is what you’re after, you may very well hire the wrong intern for the job. You need to sit down and evaluate each of the applicants before hiring. Who provides you with the best set of skills, and who do you feel you can trust to do the job to the best of their abilities?
While an internship doesn’t always need to have a compensation plan in place, that does not mean their position couldn’t turn into a full-time job down the road. Conversely, if an intern isn’t cutting it, you’ll need to let them go and bring in someone else.
7. Discuss the Logistics
Once you choose the candidate you’d like to bring on as an intern, either have them come back in or schedule a time to chat over the phone. Explain the internship program, outline what is expected, and discuss a potential start date. The intern would need to agree to these terms before starting their internship with your company.
It would also be wise to explain the dress code. The last thing you want in a professional setting with clients in your midst is an intern who dresses sloppily and brings down your company's image.
8. Train the Intern
The very first day your intern shows up for work, start the training process. It would be wise to have a procedure and process outlined on paper for them to follow. This not only makes the intern's life easier, but it also makes the process simpler for any future new hires you bring on.
9. Start Delegating
Now that the groundwork has been laid, it’s time to start delegating! The work you need completed now lies in the hands of your skillful intern. It’s time for you to focus on other areas of your business and allow your intern(s) to take the reigns.
While it may be difficult, try not to micromanage your interns; allow them space to complete their tasks. However, make sure they understand that if they have a question, it is OK to stop ask for help. It doesn’t do anyone any good if an intern makes a poor decision on their own. This could result in you spending money to fix their mistake.
If you are looking for more great information and tips for your business, check out the Incfile blog, where there are hundreds of amazing pieces of free content to help take your business to the next level.