• Home
  • Events
  • Insider's Guide
  • Site Map
Chamber of Commerce

Information for Employers

Hire an intern. It's good business.

Recruiting talent to your company is time-consuming and expensive, and it does not necessarily guarantee results. Internships offer a year-round recruiting opportunity that lets you evaluate a potential job candidate in a real-world environment.

Hiring an intern can:

  • Help you develop your workforce.
  • Offer you an additional recruiting tool.
  • Increase employee retention rates.

Don't take it from us. Many employers in our community already use an interns in their business. Here is what Steve Cousins has to say:

"I don't know of a better way to recruit talent than having an intern program that provides a no-risk opportunity to potential employees. My first job was as an intern at Lion Oil. I enjoyed the job and the people so much that I accepted a position with the company after graduation." -- Steve Cousins, Refinery Manager for Lion Oil Company

To submit an internship, please click here and submit the position. Be sure to select the Internship category. For help, please read below.

Benefits of Starting an Internship Program

Internships are an increasingly important part of the college experience, but interns are not the only ones who can benefit from the experience; the organization hosting the intern gains multiple benefits from having an internship program.

  • Find future employees.An internship program is a year-round recruiting tool. Fall internships, summer internships, semester internships and quarterly internships, implementing an internship program means you have an ongoing pipeline of future full-time employees. For many, the process of recruiting and hiring is a drain on company resources. One solution: Appeal to tomorrow's staff members when they're looking for internships, and all you have to do is choose the best of the bunch when it comes time to hire. Moreover, college campuses are viral societies. This means if your organization impresses one class of interns, word will quickly spread. Soon you'll find the most sought-after student talent is interested in working with you.
  • Test-drive the talent. It's a human resources reality: A new employee makes a solid impression in the interview, but then just doesn't gel with your current team or your company's way of doing things. Because of this, hiring someone as an intern is the most effective way to evaluate their potential as a full-time employee. When you "try out" candidates via a semester or summer internship, you make fewer mistakes when it comes to full-time staffing; you avoid the pitfall of training a new hire, only to find out they're not a fit for your organization…or that the entry-level employee doesn't like the field. Starting an internship program lets you benefit from added manpower, while more accurately assessing candidates.
  • Increase productivity. Speaking of additional manpower, setting up an internship program allows you to take advantage of short-term support. The extra sets of hands help your employees be more productive, prevent them from becoming overburdened by side projects, as well as free them up to accomplish more creative tasks or those where higher-level, strategic thinking or expertise is required.
  • Increase employee-retention rate. The proof for the test-driving theory is in the positive employee-retention figures: According to NACE's 2009 Experiential Education Survey, almost 40 percent of employers reported a higher five-year retention rate among employees they'd hired via their internship programs.
  • Enhance perspective. It's not just the extra sets of hands that make interns advantageous. Especially in an organization of only 12 or 15 employees, new people bring with them novel perspectives, fresh ideas, and specialized strengths and skill sets. These augment the abilities of your professional workforce.
  • Give back to the community. As a business, you likely rely on community support. Creating an internship program is an excellent way to give back. Hiring interns not only helps students in your community get started; it enhances the local workforce as a whole.
  • Support students. Internships provide students numerous perks: They gain experience, develop skills, make connections, strengthen their resumes, learn about a field and assess their interest and abilities. Offering a paid internship is particularly beneficial, because it enables economically disadvantaged youth to participate. Students who have to help fund their own schooling will need a job, regardless. Providing an internship allows that job to facilitate a positive future.
  • Benefit your business whether you are a small business or a big company. When looking for full-time work, the top talent often go for big-name businesses. But when seeking internships, learning is the leading draw. Candidates will choose an internship based on the amount of hands-on training, real experience and mentoring opportunities they will get, so it doesn't matter what size the organization is as long as those opportunities are there.

How to Start an Internship Program

You've decided to start an internship program but are not sure where to begin. The process can seem overwhelming, but, in reality, setting up an internship program is similar to starting any new program or project: It's crucial you have a plan. Once you do, however, it's as easy as checking items off a list until that plan is put into action. Knowing how to start an internship program is no different.

Internship programs offer tremendous benefits to both big and small businesses. To help you reap these benefits, here are a few steps to follow to make the internship experience a positive one for both you and your interns.

Research and Discover

  • Learn about the landscape. Your first step is to gain a general understanding of the internship arena: What exactly is an internship? What are interns looking for in a host organization? Using internships.com as your headquarters, read and research as much as possible about the internship industry.

  • Evaluate your organization. Once you get a feel for what an internship program entails, your next step is to conduct an internal assessment of your company's needs and resources.

    Some aspects to consider are whether you will pay interns, or how you can otherwise compensate intern efforts; whether your company can support multiple interns; the availability of meaningful work for interns; the type of projects that can be assigned; your ideal duration and time of year to host interns; and how your physical space and equipment will accommodate additional individuals.

  • Learn about legality. Before you design your program, it's wise to get a grasp on the legal ramifications of hosting interns in your state: minimum wage requirements, workers' compensation issues, safety and harassment policies, termination guidelines, and how other traditional employee benefits and business responsibilities do or don't apply to interns.

    As a host organization, the best way to cover your bases legally is to consult with your company's legal counsel or contact an employment law professional...before you begin the hiring process.

  • Understand college credit. It's a common misconception that internships are always in exchange for college or university credit. Yes, an internship is a learning experience. But whether or not school credit is obtained is strictly between the student and his or her school.

Plan and Design

  • Gain business-wide backing. For an internship to succeed, it's necessary to get the entire business on board. From the CEO to senior and junior management, without big-picture buy-in, interns won't feel welcome, and it will be a constant struggle to allocate resources.

    The best way to get the green light? Prepare a presentation explaining how your business can benefit from an internship program as well as how the program itself can help your organization reach its objectives.

  • Design the program.The key component in setting up an internship is to create the structure itself. A comprehensive internship structure should include information on learning objectives, daily responsibilities, short- and long-term projects, supervisor assignments, evaluation procedures, policies and expectations, and orientation and off-boarding processes, to name the basics.

  • Put together a compensation plan. Develop your intern salary or compensation structure. Research current trends and intern expectations; then designate funds, create a budget, and gain the necessary financial approval.

  • Delegate duties. Having staff members take ownership of key roles and responsibilities ensures implementation will move forward and that the internship program will run smoothly once in place. But it doesn't end there. Make sure intern supervisors have the time and resources to effectively manage the participants and the program itself.

  • Select a start date for interns. Leaving your launch date open-ended almost guarantees procrastination. Instead, setting a date about 7 to 10 weeks out will facilitate proper planning.

Take Action

  • Post the position. Posting openings on internships.com gives you exposure to the top student talent. Filling out the position profile is simple and allows you to explain about the position, the industry, and the benefits of working for your business.

  • Evaluate candidates. Start by identifying the specific skills, traits, and training you're looking for. Next, devise a system for evaluating resumes and submissions to decide which prospective interns you will interview.

  • Interview, select, and hire interns. Conduct interviews and then perform background checks as well as checking the references of your top contenders. When making final decisions, be sure the direct supervisor has a say in selecting a candidate. Finally, refer to your program structure (designed in step six) to begin your on-boarding and orientation processes.