How Your Business Can Benefit From Summer Help, Interns

people teens students youth public domainWith Spring Break now behind us, summer vacation is the next big watershed event for students and many will be looking for summer jobs and internships.

The long, slow recovery that has followed our last recession has not been much of a job creator, and it has been especially unkind to youth, ages 16-24. I encourage you to find a way to provide some opportunities for this group. If they don’t learn what it takes to hold a job when they’re young, it doesn’t bode well for their future, or the future prosperity of our country.

Follow the rules

In today’s regulatory climate, there are more rules for bringing unpaid interns on board. I discuss these and provide some background on this Wall Street Journal video and you’ll find additional information on the Small Business Administration website. Be sure you’re on the right side of the rules, if you’re not going to pay your interns.

Don’t wait until the last minute to make your decision on summer help or an internship. It’s really important that the young people who come to work with you are able to “hit the ground running.” For many, this will be their first experience in the workforce. Make them feel productive immediately; otherwise they will get the wrong impression about work and employers.

Finding candidates

There are several websites that connect employers and interns. Among them are:

However, it’s probably smarter to focus your strategy a little closer to home. If you’re looking for a college student, do a Google search like this: “name-of-local-university post internship.” You may find that you can post a position online or at least get the contact information you need.

It’s also a great idea to contact the high schools in your area. Many will be willing to help you connect with students.

Preparation steps

As I mentioned at the top, be sure that you have everything ready to go when your intern or summer employee shows up on the first day. This means you should have planned what type of duties this person will be performing and who will be handling the direct supervision and training. Please don’t spring this responsibility on someone at the last minute and be sure to select an employee who is comfortable with youth and a good teacher.

Also, be sure you provide quality workstations for your summer help. A pet peeve among interns and youth workers is that they get shoved off onto the corner of a table or some other “desk” that has been jerry rigged. Hey, these summer employees have been sitting at the “kid’s table” at Thanksgiving all their lives; it’s time to show them some respect and begin to make them feel like adults. Only then can you expect them to perform like adults.

Here’s one more thing for you to consider: There’s a good chance your summer youth employees know more about social media than you do. If you can combine that familiarity with the principles of social media marketing, you might have a winning combination on your hands.

In fact, your young workers may be teaching you a few things before the summer is over.

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