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Blog Advanced Insights

How to Hire an Intern

Feel like your department is ready to hire an intern? You may have come to the conclusion your company could use help coming up with innovative ideas, you may need extra support in certain areas of your business, or you’re ready to pass on your expertise to someone who is eager to learn. Here are some tips to help you hire an intern:


Where to look for your intern?

You can find interns nearly anywhere.  A few of the most popular ways are through websites, namely job boards and career sites, and social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter. You can also contact local universities who will work with your company to find the best intern for the position you’re offering.

Remember: hire an intern who is willing to improve his skills over an intern who already takes on those skills. Interns are usually applying for the position because they are searching to gain experience.  Internships are a stepping-stone for most people when beginning a career.

Who should you look for?

Someone eager to learn

Your intern doesn’t have to be an undergraduate. There may be some MBA candidates looking for more experience, and people who are looking to switch careers or rejoin the workforce after a break, may look for internships to help them transition into their new careers.

Don’t think about age, think about hiring people eager to learn.

A college student

When you think about hiring an intern, you may imagine a senior in college preparing himself for the career world.  However, there are many freshmen and sophomores who have decided to get an early jump on internships. These students are usually very eager to learn! Bonus, they may want to come back and help you at a different time, whether it is a summer, spring, winter, or fall internship, saving you another intern search.

While working with college students, pay attention to when they will be able to provide the most flexibility. This is usually moot point for summer internships, but during the school year, working around your intern’s schedule will help him dedicate more time to your company.

Design a program that allows growth

What will the intern’s duties be?

Come up with a job description for the internship position. Not only do you need this for HR, but having a job title and description will help your intern feel a part of the company and also give him a sense of confidence.

As for deciding duties, decide where and how an intern can learn - and help – the most. Will he be writing blogs to help your Marketing Coordinator? If a design or computer science major, will he be assisting your Web Developers in building a new website? Whatever the intern’s job may be, spell out tasks in the job description.

Who will be the intern’s supervisor?

Choose your intern’s supervisor wisely. The supervisor must be able to have patience and the ability to explain tasks and processes to the intern. Since an internship is a learning process for the intern, choose a supervisor that has the time and skills to attend to the intern’s needs.

Should the internship be paid, unpaid, or offer college credit? Full-time or part-time?


Let’s face it – you’re looking to hire an intern because you need temporary help around the office or because you’re ready to share your knowledge and experience. If you hire an older intern they’ll usually expect to be paid because they may have been in the workforce before. Moreover, businesses that pay their interns can draw from a wider talent pool.


If you do not plan on paying your intern, keep in mind a few laws from the United States Department of Labor:

The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;

The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;

The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and

The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

If the internship is unpaid, make this clear in the internship job description. You may also take into consideration hiring a college student and offering college credit.

Offering college credit

If you are tight on budget, an alternative to a paid internship can be to offer college credit. Of course this only works if you’re hiring a college student; thus, hiring a college student is the more budget-friendly route. This will give your intern an incentive and help motivate his work ethic. 

When offering college credit, you will have to work with the intern’s university guidelines and provide an internship they find worthy of college and academic credit.

Full-time or part-time

Will your college intern be able to work around his school schedule in order to make a commitment to work?  If the internship is being offered in the fall or spring semester, make the internship part-time to allow him the time to work hard at school and at work.  If you are offering a winter or summer internship, offer full-time, since the student will be out of school and will have more time to dedicate his attention to work.

What is the main goal of the internship?

The goal of the internship should be mutually beneficial. Internships are not about getting coffee for the team! You want your intern to leave the company boasting about his experience, and you should want him to leave having gained a solid overview of your industry. Develop your internship role around these two points.


When interviewing for an intern role, try the newer style of interviewing, behavioral interviewing. Using behavioral interviews allows the intern to respond with past experiences rather than giving their interviewer a generalized answer.  This interview process starts with a “Tell me about a time when…” or “Give me an example of…”, compared to “Tell me about yourself” or “Why do you think you’re the best candidate for this position?”. Behavior interviews may take the stress of an intern who has never interviewed at a larger company and may also help him relax and enjoy himself, which will help you get a better understanding of the type of personality he has.


Once you’ve selected your superstar intern, plan his first day to give him an overview of the company and his role. Have the head of HR or the intern’s supervisor talk about your company’s culture to get him excited about his involvement.  Then throughout the next couple days, continuously give your intern basic tasks he can learn quickly and build upon reasonably efficiently.  Because the intern may be intimidated checking in with him to give him the opportunity to ask questions may ease his nerves.

Tell us: When do youknow it’s time to hire an intern?


Topics: Staffing & Recruiting

Posted by Advanced Resources on August 15, 2014