You want to find an intern because you need some extra help, but you don't want to hire a full-time employee. Free help sounds like the perfect solution, right? The truth is that interns can be a great solution for many companies, and are often a win-win for both parties. Businesses get much needed help and interns get on-the-job training.
However, businesses should realize ahead of time that interns do require some commitment of time, attention and training. A good intern will have a positive attitude, appreciate the opportunity they have been given and ask questions without being over bearing. To be able to integrate into a company they do require some basic attention and training though. They will need to know the lay of the land, the rules of the office and a rundown of the key players.
Many employers say that when they hire an intern they are actually looking for a future employee or contractor. If the intern shows some initiative it is helpful to encourage them and give them added responsibilities. In the long run this will help you get more things accomplished and help them expand their horizons.
We all have to start somewhere and for most of us that somewhere is close to the bottom. Interns are often tasked with menial jobs such as filing, organizing or fetching the morning coffee. Although this type of work is necessary, unless it is specifically what the intern signed on for, then it should be kept to a minimum. Clearly outlining expectations during the interviewing process will avoid any confusion in this area.
Just because an intern is not technically an employee does not mean that they should be treated with any less respect than other employees. Although they may be new to the job market they might surprise you with fresh perspectives and ideas.
Some companies have been known to hire interns and then leave them with nothing to do. If you don't have tasks that you can hand off to an intern, then don't waste your time or theirs by bringing them in. If often happens also that an intern is hired to work in one department and is quickly whisked away by a completely different department. This isn't fair to the intern if they are suddenly not learning about their chosen field.
Having an intern can be a rewarding experience for everyone involved. By clearly outlining expectations from the beginning, practicing mutual respect and keeping lines of communication open, an internship can be the start of a long and wonderful relationship.