So You Want to Hire an Intern?

Internship experience is extremely important for college students, but the benefits of internships are not one-sided. Interns can be a helpful and productive addition to your team. Follow these tips to make sure you’re getting the most out of hiring an intern.

Resource Universities  Rather than just posting internship openings on your careers page, proactively look for promising interns by forging relationships with local (or non-local!) universities. It’s not uncommon for colleges to offer programs that work with agencies and businesses to place their students in internships. In the past, Opus has worked with the University of Oregon’s Portland Experience, a program that allows students from UO to live and work in Portland.

Don’t Limit Yourself  Great interns can be of any age and any collegiate major. Keep an open mind to younger college students with no prior experience; they are blank slates and the experience they gain with you will be invaluable to them. Additionally, be open to offering internships to students with unique experience or majors. Opus has hired event management interns who majored in advertising, public relations, and interior design. Students with diverse backgrounds will bring with them a unique perspective and might end up teaching your team a thing or two!

Assign More Than Coffee Runs  When you hire an intern, make sure their direct manager is assigning them to an array of projects. This will allow the intern to learn more than they would if they were just grabbing coffee for everyone in the office, and they will end up supporting more people and departments in the company. As their internship goes on, they will be able to take on more detailed and difficult tasks. Help them grow and they will help you succeed.

Pay Them!  The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), regulates minimum wage for US workers, this includes interns. They state that interns working at a for-profit company must be paid minimum wage, with very few exceptions to this rule. Not sure if you’re legally required to pay an intern at your company? You can get clarification from the US Wage and Hour Division. Opus sees the value of work done by interns, which is why we proudly pay ours!

Stay in Touch  If your company’s intern is departing the company, whether it be to return to school or because you were unable to offer them a full-time position, be sure to stay in contact with them. Add them on LinkedIn and encourage their manager to write them a LinkedIn recommendation. Consider past interns part of your professional network; you never know if you will end up working with them in the future.

Some of Opus’ interns have ended up staying with the company for years after their internship ended; others have gone out into the professional world to do great things. Be deliberate in choosing your intern and you can benefit from their work as much as they’ll benefit from the experience.

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