Interns: They Do More Than Get Your Coffee

Summer is here, and you know what that means: Students from high school and up through to graduate school are looking for work – or at least ways to gain experience in and knowledge about the industries they want to pursue.

That's where smart companies come in. There is a lot of valuable talent out there just waiting to help you, even if you don't have the budget to hire a full-time summer worker. Internships can help you secure great workers who are eager to fill their summer days by working at your company.

However, it's not enough to just advertise and hope the interns come to you. There are ways to get passionate people who are excited about your company and eager to assist you in any way possible. Some of the secrets to hiring great interns include:

1. Planning

Create an internship program with goals, deliverables, and milestones. When you understand what your business needs to accomplish, you can look for interns who will help you meet those goals. Hiring interns with no clear plan in mind might make it difficult for both you and the intern(s) to thrive.

2. Payment

Yes, payment. You're hiring interns, but offering some form of compensation will help you stand out in your recruitment efforts. You don't necessarily need to pay a salary or a large compensation package, but even a small stipend can give you an edge and help attract the best and brightest.

3. Location, Location, Location

It's important that you know where to find the best interns. Seek out the schools and programs where students are learning skills relevant to your business/industry. You can recruit at the source or create relationships with the schools and professors themselves.

It's also important that interns know where to find you, too. Those who are passionate about the field you are in will want to help you and gain experience for themselves, even if it means doing so on a volunteer basis.

4. Give Interns Real Work

In order to fuel their passion and make the experience meaningful for them and your business, don't just assign interns to photocopy duty and coffee runs. Teach them, mentor them, and make sure they are involved in the parts of the business that get them excited. There's a lot to be said for word-of-mouth marketing, and excited interns can help you boost your reputation with consumers and potential employees by talking your company up to their friends and acquaintances.

In the end, the secrets to hiring great interns are not really secrets at all. Common sense and a clear purpose behind your internship program will help you bring high-caliber interns through the doors. A little legwork ahead of time will get the best results later on.

Henry Goldbeck is president of Goldbeck Recruiting, Inc.