There comes a time in every small business when the owner decides that they need help. Hiring an intern is a great way to get used to having someone help out. It also helps the business owner hone their management skills.
Having an intern is very different than hiring an employee. I want to share my tips for having an intern. Some of these transfer over to hiring an employee but not all.
A great way to get an intern is to approach local universities and work with them. That way the intern can get school credit for their time.
1. It’s a 2 way street: If you are not paying your intern or paying them very little, you need to come up with a way to compensate them. Making sure that they get school credit is a good first step. You need to make sure to fill out the appropriate paper work and ensure that they complete the types of tasks needed for the school credit. After that, it is important that you take the time to explain, train and answer questions for your intern. Take them on any related errands and give them as much responsibility as possible. This obviously will take time out of your day but hopefully you’ll have more time now that you have the help.
2. Have a specified place for them to work: It was important for me to set up my current intern in another room in my house other than my office. I am a talker and I know I wouldn’t be able to concentrate clearly with another person in my office. This also allows her some personal space which I’m sure makes her feel more respected in the office.
3. Have a guest bathroom: I read a long time ago that you shouldn’t consider taking on a employee in your home unless you have an extra bathroom. Lots of small businesses run out of their home and that doesn’t mean that you can’t have an intern, you just need to make sure that they have enough space. It also keeps you from feeling like someone is invading your space.
4. Be prepared for strange schedules: Even though I am the one that has a constrictive schedule, it is usually the college student that can only work certain hours. If you are looking for someone to be there 9-5 every day, you probably need to hire someone.
5. Be upfront: This is one of my general business rules but it really applies here. Be clear about what you expect of your intern and what they can expect from you as well. Let them know what mundane tasks they will have to complete instead of selling them on an exciting internship. This will ensure that they will enjoy their time with you. Be clear about how you expect them to dress and how important promptness is to you. Remember that this may be their first experience working with a small business and you need to make sure that they understand you should be treated with just as much respect as any other business owner.