Money is often a big cause of concern for entrepreneurs – you need money as startup capital to turn your idea into a reality and you need money as working capital to keep the business alive. One of the biggest money problems facing entrepreneurs is how to manage scarce revenue to cover payroll expenses. Interestingly, smart small business owners can attract qualified college students while saving some money on entry-level help by considering internship programs.
Many small businesses that could use the “cheap” help that interns provide often shy away from creating an internship program because they don’t want to court legal hassles. However, an internship program when properly managed can be a win-win situation for your company and the intern.
You get to save some money on payroll expenses and the intern gets to gain industry experience, school credit, an valuable contacts in the industry. This piece provides 3 strategies for creating a win-win internship program.
1. Here’s how to get the best interns
Your business is only as good as the people you have working for you; hence, you’ll want superstar interns and not the runts of the litter. In order to improve your odds of hiring superstar interns, you should focus your search on where you can find college students who are “hungry” for success in your industry.
You may want to schedule talks with students in entry-level college classes so that you can sell the position to the right candidates. You should also find ways to build and cultivate relationships with students’ advisors who can help you spread the word about the available positions to the right ears.
2. To pay or not to pay interns
Without much ado, if you are a small business owner, you are running a business for profit, and the right thing is to pay your workers. Unpaid internships are for not-for-profits – simple. Of course, some for-profits can have unpaid interns if they can meet the six strict criteria for unpaid internships according to the Fair Labor Standards Act. You can also have unpaid interns if you own an awesome Fortune 500 where interns will thank their stars for a chance to work even when it’s without pay.
Interns generally earn by the hour and lesser than the industry standard for entry-level workers; hence, you’ll still save some payroll expenses. In addition, if you choose not to pay your interns, you’ll miss some highly gifted candidates who cannot afford to work for free because they have financial needs.
3. There should be something in it for your firm and the intern
We have established that you should pay your interns a stipend – but even beyond money, the internship should be a valuable on-the job learning experience for them. Before you hire interns, you should take the time to create a comprehensive program that affords them the opportunity to do meaningful and productive work. It doesn’t make sense to have interns sitting idly because there’s no task/project for them to do.
If you create a decent internship program, your business will also record impressive results. To start with, you’ll get a chance to screen and work with potential entry-level workers without the commitment of offering them a job. Your company gets good word-of-mouth buzz in the pool of skilled employees about how “cool” it is to work in your company. You’ll also get the flexibility of adding more workers during peak season without worrying about lay-off in the off-peak season.