Help an Intern, Let Her Help You

Do you need assistance launching a publicity campaign, setting up your web site, or following up on leads? Help might be as close as your nearest college. Many have intern programs, where students work for businesses as part of their studies. According to Steve Markert, Field Experience Coordinator at the University of Houston-Downtown, students benefit from getting real-world work experience, and businesses not only get the advantage of the intern’s skills and time, they receive the satisfaction of helping the student develop and may even gain a long-term employee.

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Do you need assistance launching a publicity campaign, setting up your web site, or following up on leads? Help might be as close as your nearest college. Many have intern programs, where students work for businesses as part of their studies. According to Steve Markert, Field Experience Coordinator at the University of Houston-Downtown, students benefit from getting real-world work experience, and businesses not only get the advantage of the intern’s skills and time, they receive the satisfaction of helping the student develop and may even gain a long-term employee.

Internships in the UH program provide students three credits for 120 hours of work. This might be all the time needed to complete some types of projects. However, recognizing that the standard internship isn’t a long time, many businesses expect that they will retain the intern beyond the end of the program. At that point the student has been trained, and you know how they are able to contribute. Markert suggests that you should select an intern as carefully as you would a permanent employee, whether you plan to work with them beyond the internship or not.

Here are a few tips for designing an internship program that will work for both you and the student:

Have one or more specific projects or responsibilities in mind. You might want help with PR, design of a web site, industry research, creation of brochures and other marketing materials, or other tasks. Have duties in mind that will use and develop skills the student is learning. Markert gives the example of a real estate professional who wanted someone to develop marketing materials, research her market area, and make phone calls to follow up on leads.

Make it interesting. Don’t just have the intern answer phones or do filing. Give him something to do that will lead to a feeling of accomplishment, or something for a portfolio. Include him in meetings and other activities so he gets a feel for the entire operation.

Pay if you can. Although some internships are unpaid, students with business, marketing and technical skills may receive $8 – $15 an hour. Whether to pay and how much is up to you, but if you are looking for someone with a specific set of skills you may have to pay to be competitive. (Of course, you probably won’t get the quality or quantity of work you would get from an experienced professional, and the pay is secondary to the learning experience, so pay accordingly.)

Provide supervision and direction to the intern. Although you aren’t going to teach the intern designing your web site about HTML and programming, you will help her understand the user side of web site development, such as what content and features will be most useful to your customers.

If you would like to participate in an internship program, contact your local college. Both university systems and community colleges may offer internship opportunities. Markert says internships may be coordinated by the Career Services, Placement or Career Counseling office, depending on the college.

As the Idea Lady, Cathy Stucker helps entrepreneurs and professionals attract customers and make themselves famous. Get free marketing tips at http://www.IdeaLady.com/

Posted on: April 3, 2012, by :