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Oct 4, 201211:43 AMSmall Business, Big Ideas

with Jean Willard

Share your kindness and knowledge with interns; get repaid in full

Share your kindness and knowledge with interns; get repaid in full

You can tell you’re getting busier at work. Orders are coming in fast and furious, plus you’re worried about the 2013 tax cliff that everyone is talking about. You want to add staff, but in what way would they actually help? Maybe you don’t need someone full time. How do you know if you do? Perhaps you feel your business needs a boost – you know, some new ideas or different energy. What are your hiring options? I have a suggestion for you: hire an intern.

Because our business has a seasonal emphasis, we request internship help from nearby universities, which provide us with students who want real-life training in their field of choice. The internships we offer help the students in so many ways.

  • Students gain confidence in themselves and their abilities.
  • They have a better chance of finding full-time employment upon graduation. Heck, you might want to hire them.
  • In some cases, they are able to use their internships for additional college credits while getting paid for the work performed.

You might wonder why you would hire someone for a number of months rather than adding a part-time employee. Here are some of my own observations from the years.

  • The young people who are applying for these internships are very bright. They are enthusiastic, willing to take direction, and often come up with alternative ways of doing those tasks we are used to performing.
  • They have incredible computer skills. They have been performing the same tasks we often struggle with for a much longer time and are not stuck on old technology. They are used to the current technology and are anxious to try the next best thing.
  • They are hardworking and flexible when it comes to how tasks are performed. They love the variation of the tasks to be performed. They understand their internships represent a terrific opportunity to learn more about their field of study. They learn to “talk the talk” and how to discuss the issues presented to them with co-workers. They are also provided the opportunity to speak to clients once we feel they are sufficiently trained.

So what is the downside?

  • There is quite a bit of training involved. The universities provide an incredible education, but practical skills are often the loose end that needs to be finessed. By hiring these students, you give them the chance to learn how to speak intelligently with clients and how to apply the education that they have been provided.
  • Work needs to be supervised and checked. Because this is a worker investing time on only a limited term basis, the employer’s obligation is to ensure accuracy and a good-quality work product.

It has been a privilege to offer these students limited term jobs, and working with them has been a wonderful experience. I have learned something from each and every one of them. Yet I realize that we offer so much more to them. They are a great asset. It’s a great opportunity to share what we know with the generation that will follow in our footsteps – something that we should all deem important.

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Oct 31, 2012 08:28 am
 Posted by  Susan Pohorski

Wisconsin's technical colleges also have students who are looking for internships. Some tech college programs require students to gain experience in their field. Instructors are also looking for projects for students in information technology, marketing, web design, accounting, business management and many other program areas. Share your desire to engage students in your business with your local technical college. This is a win-win situation.

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