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4 Tips for Creating a Winning Internship Program (That's Much More Than Fetching Coffee)

Thanks to Hollywood portrayals, many people envision interns as young, unpaid workers running around clutching coffee or struggling with a temperamental copy machine day after day. But a successful internship program can and should be much more—a professional win-win for both the business and the individual.

Establishing a solid internship program takes plenty of prior planning. Apart from attracting and training the right talent, your business must carefully consider the legalities. From business insurance coverage (like workers’ compensation) to payment (or lack thereof), your SMB will face lots of logistics before the big day when your first intern walks through the door.

Here are four tips for creating a productive, winning internship program for everyone involved:

Recruit Right

In the short term, you want interns who can accomplish projects and help your day-to-day operations run smoothly. In the long term, you may even want to bring a previous intern on as a full-time employee, especially since they have a good feel for the company culture already. This means you need a pool of reliable, driven and teachable candidates. But where can you find them?

On-campus recruiting at a local college or university is a great way to develop relationships with potential hires. Consider setting up an annual booth at a job fair or establishing a rapport with the student employment office. If you’re interested in hiring interns who have already graduated, consider contacting an office that handles alumni affairs.

You’ll also want to use the full scope of the internet to advertise, including online job boards, your own website and social media. Be sure to craft a specific and appealing job post that accurately explains the opportunity.

Compensate Competitively

Your internship program can either be paid, unpaid or grant college credit. It may sound tempting to bring aboard a few unpaid interns to cut costs, but bear in mind these points from the U.S. Small Business Administration:

Make Work Meaningful

Nobody wants to trudge to an office to perform mindless busy work every day. If you can make your interns feel like a real part of the company, you can forge a lasting relationship and perhaps even invite them back on a part- or full-time basis down the line.

As Entrepreneur points out, giving employees important assignments and holding them accountable is very important. You’ll also want to make sure that your interns have access to everyone on staff. Internship advisors can become long-term mentors, and it’s always nice to know that doors are open to maximize two-way communication between current employees and interns.

Learn the Legal Side

What are the minimum wage requirements in your state? Is your business insurance plan equipped to provide workers compensation for incoming interns? When was the last time you updated your employee handbook with the ins and outs of hiring, firing and in-office conduct?

Lead with the logistics and you’re well on your way to creating a sustainable internship policy for years to come. A major oversight in this area could spell trouble down the line for your company!

Ready to revisit your business insurance options? Compare policies with CoverHound today, and get your company ready for future growth.

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Review personalized quotes, select coverages, and buy online - Everything insurance, all-in-one-place.

Insurance shopping simplified

Review personalized quotes, select coverages, and buy online - Everything insurance, all-in-one-place.
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