5 Questions to Ask to Determine If You’re Ready for an Intern

More often than not, we see this type of post written in reverse with interns trying to figure out if they’re ready to take on an internship. It’s just as important for a small business, typically more lean on staff and resources, to know whether or not they’ll be able to bring on a new hire and create a meaningful experience for them. Before you hit “publish” on posting an internship job opening, take the time to ask yourself the following questions to determine if an intern is exactly what your business needs.

Do you have enough (substantial) work for them to do?

Spoiler alert: going on endless coffee runs and fixing the printer doesn’t count as substantial work. When prepping an internship job posting, consider the needs of each specific department.  Where do they need extra assistance? How can an intern benefit them? Then, consider the age range of your interns in regards to their responsibilities. You wouldn’t want to assign a freshman in college the kind of workload that someone in a senior role would have!

When creating a balanced list of duties for an internship, be mindful that it reflects these three areas:

  •  Assign significant work that gives interns hands-on experience within their field
  •  Tailor the workload specifically for their age group.   
  • Create enough responsibilities that can be accomplished within the internship time frame.

Will you be available to train and mentor them?

How often are you physically around in the office? If you know you’re not there frequently enough for one-on-one meetings or that you plan on taking time off during the internship period, take this into consideration before moving forward. You may want to wait to hire when you are much more present. However, if you don’t want to wait, talk it over with your team and figure out if anyone has enough availability to train and mentor the intern in your place.

Will they be available to come in?

Every internship is different — some interns commute to an office and some work remotely. Determine what style fits the needs of your business best and make sure that the hire can meet your needs. If you prefer to have them come into the office, make sure that they have reliable transportation and can accommodate parking. If you’d rather have interns that work remotely, plan for how that will work out on both sides and if you can schedule in some time to meet up once a week to check in.

Can you offer them pay?

I’m a firm advocate in paying interns and, if there is no money available, providing school credit as an alternative. Consider whether or not your business has the budget to pay its interns on an hourly basis or provide a stipend by the end of the semester. If you truly cannot offer any financial compensation, offer school credit and as many incentives as possible like a free gym membership or parking pass.

Are there any projects you want to get started?

Earlier, I mentioned that establishing substantial work is critical for an intern to succeed during their internship. If there’s a project that you or your team have been trying to set aside the time to get started, this project may just be the perfect assignment to pass off to an intern. Utilizing their skill sets, you’ll be able to give them guidance to work on the project and see it through to completion, empowering them to leave behind a significant mark on your business. 

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.