How To Hire An Intern

How To Hire An Intern
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Do you need to hire an Intern for your business?

Running an internship program is one of the best decisions to make when you need an extra set of hands in your organization.

This is because it is has a lot of benefits attached.

First, it’s a great way to supplement your workforce.

Thereby improving productivity and profitability in your business.

Also, it gives the intern a practical learning opportunity and first-hand experience in the professional world.

Even more, as a business, you can tap into the creative potential and perspectives of these interns.

Thereby giving your business innovative ideas and better ways to achieve its goals.

Above all, an internship program is mutually beneficial to you as a business owner and the hired intern.

Hence, this blog post will guide you on the appropriate steps to take.

How to Hire An Intern

Generally, hiring an employee can get complicated and overwhelming.

This is true, especially if you have no idea what you’re doing.

The same applies to hiring an intern.

However, certain guidelines can make the process a lot easier.

To ensure you fully understand what you’re doing and the processes involved, we will cover the following aspects;

  • What is an internship all about; who is an Intern, and what is an internship program?
  • Interns roles and responsibilities
  • What you need to know before you hire an intern
  • Important qualities for a successful internship
  • Interns recruitment/hiring process

By the end of this blog post, you’ll discover everything you need to know about hiring interns for your business.

So first thing first, what internship is all about.

Who is an Intern?

Simply put, an intern is an individual in training for a specified period of time in an organization.

This could be a high school, college, or recent graduate from the university.

An internship may be necessary to get some grades and advance from one level to another in an academic setting.

However, in the professional world, an internship is done primarily to acquire working experience.

This is true especially for people just starting their professional journey or career.

For this blog post, our focus is on internships in the professional setting.

Hence, when we mention an intern, we mean an individual who has signed up in an organization to work for a specific period to acquire practical knowledge or gain working experience.

Interns also go by the names trainees or apprentices.

Hence, in this blog post, we’ll sometimes refer to interns as trainees.

What is an Internship Program?

Now, interns have to work in an organization to gain the work experience they desire.

Hence, organizations hire these interns to work for them for a short period of time.

This process or period of time is called an internship program.

Basically, an internship program is a professional opportunity offered by an organization to trainees to work in the organization for a fixed time frame.

An internship program may be paid, compensated, or unpaid.

This all depends on the terms of the internship program, contract or agreement signed by the employer and the intern.

Interns Roles and Responsibilities

Interns’ roles and responsibilities largely depend on the type of organization and its operations.

Also, it all depends on the contract of the internship program signed by the intern and the employer (the organization offering the internship program).

However, here are some of the roles and responsibilities of an intern;

  • Perform daily tasks as may be required by team leaders/supervisors
  • Assist the team and contribute to the success of tasks/specific projects
  • Attend team meetings and also make innovative/creative contributions
  • Attend training, learn, and improve skills and abilities
  • Take on some important responsibilities and contribute to the success of the organization.
  • Build interpersonal relationship and collaborate with team members to achieve organizational goals
  • among other specific responsibilities and duties based on the nature of your organization.

Now you know what to expect from the intern you hire.

Moving forward to another important aspect of hiring an intern; What you need to know before you hire an intern.

What You Need to Know Before Hiring an Intern

Earlier,  hiring an intern could put you at the risk of attracting legal penalties.

This mostly happens if you don’t go about the hiring process the right way.

Hence, you need to know some of the things to do before you hire an intern.

Specifically, Define Why You Need an Intern

Before you begin your search for an intern and how to hire one, you need to be clear on why you need an intern.

This is all about checking to see if your decision to hire an intern aligns with your business goals.

Do you need to increase your workforce to further achieve your goals?

What’s the nature of your business/business activities?

Will the interns you hire provide the necessary support your start-up needs to thrive? 

These are some essential questions you need to ask yourself and put into consideration before hiring an intern. 

Define What Kind of Internship Program Will be best for your Business

There are different kinds of internship programs; paid/unpaid internship programs.

Each type of internship program has its perks and downsides.

Also, some businesses might work best with a specific type of internship program.

For instance, a start-up business with lots of financial constraints might work best with an unpaid internship.

An unpaid internship requires that you offer incentives to the intern.

Here you could use your discretion as a business owner to offer reasonable incentives that will be mutually beneficial to both you and the intern.

On the other hand, large businesses can afford to offer paid internships.

Hence, analyze your business, weigh your options, and make the best decision for your business.

Be Clear on the State Laws Regulating Internship Programs In your Region

There are certain guidelines regarding paid/unpaid internship programs and labor rights.

This is because most business owners see internships as an opportunity to enjoy free or cheap labor.

Hence, they tend to abuse the benefits that internship programs offer to the detriment of the interns.

Also, these guidelines may differ from region to region.

Defaulting on these rules might lead to serious penalties or litigations that you may want to avoid, especially as a business owner.

For instance, the FSLA, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), provides some internship program guidelines.

Hence, before hiring interns, familiarize yourself with these laws and know how it affects your business.

Above all, complying with the law applicable in your location does not only save you from unnecessary litigations.

It also increases your credibility as an organization.

Consequently, increasing your chances of getting the best trainees to join your organization.

Determine the Length of Internship Program

This is another thing you want to be clear on before taking in any trainees.

How long will the internship program take?

Will it be for the short or long-term?

Depending on the nature of the organization and its activities, internships shouldn’t last beyond a few months or years.

Overall, short terms internship should be between 3 weeks to 6 months.

A long-term internship should be with 6 months to 2 years.

Hence, decide if you’ll prefer a long-term internship or a short-term internship and how it would benefit you.

Determine the Costs and Decide on If you’re Willing to Bear the Costs

Internships can be paid or unpaid.

Regardless of the type of internship program you chose, it would definitely cost you something as a business owner.

You may not be required to fulfill any financial obligations in an unpaid internship.

However, you will be required to offer some incentives which may cost money and time to put together.

These incentives could include; specialized training for specific skills, providing accommodation, feeding, transportation, provide hands-on experience opportunities.

Likewise, paid internships would cost you financially.

Depending on what you’re offering, you may need to compensate for low payments with some incentives.

This would equally cost you.

Hence, weigh your costs and financial capabilities as a business.

Afterward, decide on if you’re willing to bear the costs.

An internship is More of a Mentorship Program

When preparing to hire an intern, bear in mind that it’s not just an opportunity to get cheap labor.

Instead, it is more of a mentorship program.

A mentorship program where your organization mentors the intern to acquire relevant knowledge and skills for a successful career journey.

Overall, these are some of the things you need to consider before requesting and taking in trainees in your organization.

Another important thing to know is the qualities to look out for in an intern before you hire.

Important Qualities Required for a Successful Internship Program

Most times, interns are not required to have any specific skills for the job.

This is because they come into an organization as trainees seeking to acquire skills and relevant working experience.

However, the qualities the interns possess largely determine how successful/effective the internship program will be.

Hence, here are some of the important qualities a good intern should possess.

Effective Communication

Communication is very vital in any organization.

Hence, a good intern should speak and write in a clear, concise, and understandable manner.

Interpersonal/People Skills

A good intern should be able to also have good people skills.

This would help the intern to build good working relationships with other employees in the organization.

It would also help the intern to relate well with clients when necessary.

Team-Spirit and Collaboration

A good intern should also be willing to communicate and collaborate with other members of the organization to achieve organizational goals.

This can only happen if the intern is a good team-player.

Hence, be on the lookout for this specific trait in the intern you decide to hire.

Intermediate Technical Skills

Although interns are not expected to be experts at what they do.

However, the new intern should have intermediate general and specific technical knowledge relating to your business type.

For instance, if you run a tech company, the intern you hire should have at least basic technical skills useful to the company.

This will form the foundation of all that the intern would learn in your organization.


Most organizations work with strict timelines on projects.

This means that all members of the organization should know how to organize themselves to meet these deadlines.

Hence, when hiring an intern to join your team as an employee in training or part-time employee, hire someone with good time-management skills.

Above all, the intern should know how to manage time to meet deadlines and achieve positive results.

Willingness to Learn/Adaptability

Your organization might be a different thing from what the intern is used to.

Nevertheless, the intern should be flexible to adapt to the new environment.

Also, the trainee should be willing to learn all that is required to adapt to the new environment and be an efficient member of the organization contributing positively to the business’s growth.

Without the willingness to learn, all your efforts to train the intern would amount to nothing.

Therefore, you should seriously consider these qualities before you hire.

Creativity/ Initiative

Although interns might not have many skills to offer to your organization.

However, they can offer fresh perspectives/ideas to the organization through creative thinking.

Also, they may not know about how things are done in the organization.

However, they should be able to use their initiative to complete certain tasks and not necessarily wait for instructions all the time.

This way, they can actively contribute to the growth of your organization.


There’s nothing like internal motivation.

A motivated and goal-driven intern will be an extraordinary team member in your organization.

This is because such an individual is willing to put in his/her best efforts to achieve positive results.

Hence, you don’t have to be too pushy to get the best results out of such an intern when given specific tasks to handle.

In all, these qualities are what all good interns should possess.

So, be on the lookout for them specifically before you hire any trainee.

The next important step after this is the hiring process.

Important Tips on How to Hire and Recruit An Intern

Identify the Qualifications Relevant for Your Business Type

An intern with basic knowledge of certain aspects relevant to your business type would easily grasp important business concepts than an intern with no basic knowledge.

Therefore, you should familiarize yourself with the necessary qualifications relating to your business type.

For instance, as an e-commerce organization, your business activities will revolve around the internet.

Hence, you want to ensure that the intern has basic qualifications in this field.

This makes it easier to identify the interns’ tasks and the type of interns to search for.

Decide on the Length/Type of Internship

The length/time-frame of an internship program may differ depending on some factors.

Some of these factors include;

  • The type of intern you’re hiring; a college student or recent graduate
  • Your business/project needs
  • Your business budget/schedules
  • Academic calendar if you’re hiring interns still in an academic environment

Hence, consider these factors when deciding on how long the internship program should take.

Also, what type of internship program will you be offering paid/unpaid internships.

The main determining factor here is your business financial capability.

If you can afford it, a paid internship would be best as you stand a higher chance of getting the best efforts from the interns you hire due to the monetary compensation.

Nevertheless, if what you can afford is an unpaid internship, make sure to compensate for this with lots of benefits and incentives.

Be Clear on the Legal Requirements for Hiring an Intern

The laws guiding paid/unpaid internships tend to differ slightly.

Hence, familiarize yourself with these laws in your location and incorporate them into your internship project plans.

For instance, for unpaid internships, here are some of the legal obligations you have to fulfill.

  • Make the unpaid internship a learning experience for the intern
  • The intern cannot be treated as a full-time employee 
  • The intern cannot replace existing employees
  • Make the internship experience beneficial to the intern
  • According to FSLA, employers cannot make promises to unpaid interns of a paid position after the internship ends
  • and many more legal obligation

Hence, identify the necessary legal obligations for the type of internship program you’re offering and enforce them.

Decide on the Internship Project Type Before Hiring an Intern

This is all about deciding specifically the tasks you would want the interns to handle when you hire them.

For example for a tech company, what aspects of the business will the interns fit most depending on their school qualifications.

For instance, would the intern be required to assist the development team as an intern with computer science qualifications?

An intern with an English or Marketing major would also be best suited to assist the marketing department.

In all, consider the qualifications of the interns you plan to hire as you deliberate on the project type.

Create a Detailed Internship Project Description

The Internship project description is a document that provides all the necessary information about an internship program.

Given this, it should be clear and detailed as possible.

The project description should clearly specify the time-line of the internship program.

It should also state;

  • the type of internship
  • requirements/qualifications
  • , type of tasks to be handled
  • working hours, and other important details

Above all, one look at your internship project description should give interested applicants all the necessary details about the internship role.

Advertise the Internship Opportunity

Now that you’ve taken care of all the preliminary process of hiring an intern, how do you find one to hire?

By advertising the internship opportunity, you can get interested candidates to apply for the role.

However, there are several ways you can do this.

First, you could inform academic institutions about the internship opportunity in your organization.

These institutions could be universities, colleges, or training institutes that train people on the specific skills you need in your organization.

Your organization would provide the interns an opportunity to practicalize certain theories or principles they have learned.

This approach works best for unpaid internships.

You could also tap into your network and tell friends, colleagues, business associates about the opportunity.

You’ll be surprised at how helpful their recommendations could be.

Likewise, many job boards/sites are quite useful for finding interns to hire.

All you need to do is visit these sites and post your internship project description, and interested candidates will reach out to you.

Review Interested Applicants

After advertising the internship opportunity through job sites or requesting interns from academic institutions, you get many responses.

Hence, you need to review interested candidates to identify those that meet the requirements for the role.

When doing this, pay attention to the qualifications relating to your business type.

After you’ve identified the best candidates that meet the requirements, make your list and schedule an interview.

Interview the Selected Candidates for the Internship Opportunity

Before offering the internship role, you should assess the character and perspective of the intern.

An interview with the intern would help you achieve this.

You or the internship program coordinator may handle this process.

Nevertheless, here are some important questions to ask when interviewing interns.

  • Tell me a little bit about your field of study and why you chose it?
  • What are some of your greatest strengths and weaknesses as a person?
  • How do you feel about working as an intern with this organization?
  • How do you think you can add value to this organization as an intern?

At the end of this process, you should be certain if the intern is the right fit for the organization.

Talk About the Offer/Benefits of the Program

After a successful assessment, it’s time to discuss the internship program in detail.

If it’s a paid internship, how much are you offering?

Will it be the minimum wage or more?

Will you be offering some incentives alongside the financial compensation?

Also, if it’s an unpaid internship, what benefits/ incentives are you offering?

Make this very clear and ensure that the new intern understands this and the implications of each type of internship program.

At this point, also discuss the duties the intern would perform in your organization.

Offer the Opportunity and Settle the Necessary Agreements

All has been said and done, and the intern understands what the role entails.

Hence, it’s time to offer the internship role.

There are a lot of things to take care of here, and they include;

  • Introducing the new intern with the rest of the team
  • Creating a workspace for the intern
  • Having the intern fill out some important documents and sign some agreement
  • Starting with some training and onboarding process, among other things.

Final Thoughts on How to Hire an Intern

Now you know how to find, recruit, and hire an intern.

Of course, you’re familiar with the benefits of an internship program.

This is why you’re looking to hire an intern in the first place.

Regardless of the internship program you chose, it would definitely be beneficial to you and the intern.

Hence, use these guidelines to find the best interns to hire.

Even more, skip the rigorous search process and find the best trainees you can hire with just a few clicks.

So, click the links to the various job sites added to this blog post to make your search easier.