Judging by the current weather, it would be easy to assume that an encroaching summer is a myth rather than a certainty. However, rain-misted or not, August is most definitely on the way. For many companies, summer internships are the perfect way to recruit great new talent – the pool of graduates and students on holiday is never bigger, and with a few months to spare (and far too many parties to avoid), the more entrepreneurially minded among them are ready and willing to throw themselves into the world of work.
A great intern can be terrific source of innovation and inspiration to young companies, offering new insights, a ferocious desire to learn and usually a selection of terrible sunglasses to your existing team. For those companies on the cusp of expansion, a summer internship programme is a brilliant way to size up what areas of growth should be focussed on, as well as judging whether now is the right time for the team to expand. So, how exactly should you go about it? Fear not, we’re here to take you through the whole process.
Summer Internships: A How To Guide
When should I start hiring?
Trust us, it comes around sooner than you think.
In order to give yourself enough time for a generous application process, some interview time, and then an internship that benefits both sides (ideally over 8 weeks long), you need to start thinking about putting together a job description for your summer internships in April or early May. This allows you a bit of time to really evaluate how and where an intern would be of most benefit to you, gives you 30 days to gather the shiniest talent, lets you secure the deal before your intern finishes at their respective place of study, and leaves you time to plan the internship properly before they arrive on your doorstep. Whew. Remember, most students will be finished with their final exams by mid-June – many of them will want to be on a placement by July.
How long should my summer internships be?
Though there’s never going to be a set ‘best’ amount of time for an internship, it’s generally worth keeping your intern around for at least a couple of months, in order for you to really integrate them into your working practices, and glean some real value for both them and your company. The other thing is that you may want to be slightly flexible with your start and end dates, because different applicants will have different commitments (especially if they are still in full-time education and have to return to university come October). At the end of the day, you want to find someone fantastic. If you can consider adapting the length of your internship to suit your favoured candidate, all the better.
Should I pay my intern?
The ol’ conundrum. Now, leaving aside all of the self-evident ‘you’ll get a better quality of candidate if you pay them’ stuff – you know all that stuff – all we can really do is point you in the direction of the legal state of the matter. In order to stay on the right side of the law, you need to decide whether what the work your intern will be doing falls on the side of volunteer work, or that of a worker.
So, if your intern’s work consists of shadowing other members of your team and receiving training, they do NOT have any set responsibilities or deadlines and they don’t have a set number of hours they must complete per week you might NOT have to pay them. Similarly, if the work experience they complete for you is completed as part of their higher education course, you may not have to fully remunerate them.
If, however, this internship is nothing to do with their university or higher education course, you plan on giving them real responsibility, assigning them tasks with deadlines, expect them to provide genuine value to the company and require them to work a set amount of hours, they may be technically ‘workers’, and legally deserve remuneration. For more information on this (it’s a tricky issue, to be sure), see the official government stance.
Should my summer internships lead to a full-time role?
This is a slightly tricky one, because for those who have just graduated, the idea of embarking on an internship that has full-time prospects is a very good thing. But for those students looking for some great experience before returning to education, it’s a no-go. The short answer is that you should simply be as honest as possible; if you’re hoping that this role will turn into a full-time position, state that on the job description, but don’t necessarily rule out those who can only commit to the internship as it stands. After all, the best possible outcome of any internship is that the new talent proves themselves indispensable – if the biggest tragedy is that your intern is too good to lose, then you know you’re doing something right.
Start thinking about your summer internships scheme now, and get ahead of other companies scrambling for the best graduate talent. For more information about placing a listing, head here, and if you have any questions about setting up an internship, feel free to email us on [email protected]
By Natasha Hodgson, Enternships Community Manager