4 Mistakes of Managing Seasonal Interns

by / ⠀Career Advice Startup Advice / July 28, 2013

Should you hire an intern this season or forgo the concept altogether? This can be a tricky question. On one hand, seasonal interns can prove helpful in a small business setting. They can assist with non-critical tasks around the office, add young spirit into a company and cost a business owner next to nothing.

On the other hand, bringing on a seasonal intern can also turn into a nightmare if not managed properly. Here are a few practices to avoid.

Mistake #1: Launching a program without a plan

Hillary Clinton once famously said, “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” She was right.

Fight against failure by sitting down with your management team and hashing out a detailed description of your internship program. What will your intern do on a daily basis? Will the person shadow a high performer or member of the management team? Will there be enough work for that person to do for the entire season or should you hire them part-time? Who will manage their day-to-day progress? Post an internship ad only after you’ve established a firm plan.

Mistake #2: Hiring too young

Not all interns are created equal, especially when it comes to age. The younger the intern candidate, the more likely they may treat the experience like summer camp. Business owners are smart to pay attention to resumes that come in from people in late college (juniors or seniors) or older.

Planning to soon beef up your staffing levels? Is so, silently treat the internship like an extended job interview and consider asking them to apply for full-time role after graduation.

See also  Home Office Tips for Freelance Designers

Mistake #3: Forgetting to check compensation laws

Be careful when you hire an unpaid intern. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act, businesses can only hire an unpaid intern if the job description fits every one of the following criteria.

–          Training needs to focus less on your business’s operations and more on the specific skills your program offers (i.e. sales, accounting, marketing). Training should be academic in nature.

–          Training should be designed to help the intern regardless if that person stays on with your company full-time or not. Training should solely benefit the intern.

–          Interns should not displace normal staffers. Instead, interns should be a welcome addition to a team, not a vehicle to avoid paying overtime to regular employees. (Read: Interns shouldn’t be picking up the slack of day-to-day operations.)

–          Businesses with unpaid interns should derive no benefit from the activities of the intern. The benefit should be only work experience for the intern.

–          Interns should not be guaranteed a paid job after the completion of an unpaid program. This presumes the intern was exploited for free labor.

–          Unpaid means unpaid. Business owners are advised not to give money to an unpaid intern in return for training or time worked if/when the intern is hired full-time.

Mistake #4: Failing to offer (consistent) feedback

Most interns come straight from school where they were on the receiving end of constant feedback from teachers and counselors. This is the environment they are used to (and probably thrive in), so try to touch base with your intern on a regular basis to see how he or she is doing in your program.

See also  Top Military Leaders in Washington DC; What We Can Learn from Them

Institute a 10-minute stand-up meeting every morning with your intern. Make the meeting informal. Discuss your expectations for the day, the prior day’s happenings and any successes/items to improve upon and then give your intern time to ask questions and provide you with feedback.

Yaniv Masjedi is the vice president of marketing at Nextiva, a leading provider of cloud-based, unified communication services. In his role, Yaniv manages the firm’s marketing and branding efforts by working to create strategies that drive awareness, strengthen the Nextiva brand and share the story of the company’s unique customer-centric culture (dubbed “Amazing Service”). Keep up with Yaniv on Twitter @YanivMasjedi.

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on Under30CEO.com, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.


Get Funded Faster!

Proven Pitch Deck

Signup for our newsletter to get access to our proven pitch deck template.