Before you start your intern search, here is a look at the considerations for hiring one—as well as potential issues you need to know about.
Paid is Usually Better than Unpaid
Not only is offering a paid internship an integral part of attracting the right talent, but you are also limited with that unpaid interns are legally able to do under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Unpaid interns cannot complete any tasks that contribute, even indirectly, to the business’s operations (i.e., filling, answering the phone, email messages, inventory, etc.). All unpaid interns are legally able to do is shadow other employees and perform duties that don’t directly impact the business.
Minimum Wage Requirements Apply
Once you’ve determined that a paid intern is the right path for your business, the question becomes, “How much should I pay?” According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, if an internship qualifies as a paid position, each of your interns must at least be paid the federal minimum wage, including overtime if applicable. If you are unsure if your intern must be paid minimum wage, review this checklist by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Don’t Forget Labor Laws
In addition to minimum wage, labor and employment laws also apply to anyone employed at your business as an intern. This includes worker’s compensation, workplace safety, and harassment and discrimination laws. It is wise to consult with an attorney to determine what is legally required in order to adhere to the Fair Labor Standards Act.
A Clear Job Description Is a Must-Have
Before you start your search for an intern, take time to create a clear job description, just as you would when filling a full-time position. This helps you evaluate the business needs by clearly stating the expectations for the position while also helping potential interns understand the key components of the opportunity before they apply.
There Are Many Ways to Find an Intern
There are many ways you can find an intern for your business. To start, try contacting career centers at colleges in your local area to see if they have a formal program for placing interns. You can also use an online job board like internjobs.com, internships.com or internmatch.com to publicize your opportunity. Lastly, some of the best interns comes through employee referrals, so once you are ready to hire an intern, ask your employees if they have anyone they can recommend for the job.
Remember that hiring an intern is not about getting free or low-cost help. An intern is an extension of your business, so you should treat your search for an intern just as you would as a regular employee.
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