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Written by Nellie Akalp

How to Find Summer Interns for Your Business

How did it get to be May already? If you’re like me, you sometimes find it hard to pull yourself out of the daily rush of running your business to think about what the summer months will bring. Whether your business slows down or speeds up, summer is a prime time to hire high school and college students as interns. Hiring interns not only gets you some much-needed help, it can also inspire an energetic student who’s excited to learn. Here’s what you need to know about hiring interns.

Intern Rules and Regulations

To prohibit employers from taking advantage of students by not paying them enough (or not paying them at all), the Department of Labor has set up the following guidelines:

Paid internships: Most states require interns be paid. Paid interns are considered regular employees and subject to the same employment laws and regulations, such as paying them minimum wage and paying them overtime if they work more than 40 hours per week.

Unpaid internships: As of 2018, the Department of Labor instituted a new “primary beneficiary” test for unpaid internships:

  1. The intern and the employer clearly understand that there is no expectation of compensation.
  2. The internship must provide training similar to what would be given in an educational environment, including hands-on training.
  3. The internship must be tied to the intern’s formal education program by integrated coursework or the receipt of academic credit.
  4. The internship must accommodate the intern’s academic commitments by corresponding to the academic calendar.
  5. The internship’s length of employment is limited to the period in which the internship provides the intern with beneficial learning.
  6. The intern’s work complements, rather than displaces, the work of paid employees while providing significant educational benefits to the intern.
  7. The intern and the employer understand that the internship does not automatically mean employment after the internship is over.

In the past, there were six criteria for paid internships, and the employer had to meet all six criteria. Under the new rules, each case will be weighed and balanced based on these seven factors. This new test may be more flexible, but the intent is still to make sure the intern is benefitting from the experience, so if there is any uncertainty it may be better to pay your state’s minimum wage.

If you plan to hire interns under age 18, familiarize yourself with state and federal laws on minors in the workplace, such as the duties minors can perform, the hours they can work and the minimum wage for minors. Under federal law, a minimum wage of not less than $4.25 may be paid to employees under the age of 20 for their first 90 consecutive calendar days of employment as long as their work does not displace other workers. After 90 consecutive days of employment, or when the worker reaches age 20 (whichever comes first), the worker must receive at least the federal minimum wage.

Finding and Onboarding Your Summer Intern

Looking for interns could be as easy as visiting your local college, university or high school and asking if you can post an ad for an intern in the career center or placement office. Talk to a counselor about what type of intern you’re searching for and see if the school already has any set criteria or requirements for internships. Most colleges and universities have websites dedicated to helping their students find internships; you can also post your internship on job websites such as WayUp, Indeed and InternJobs.com.

Because your intern will only be with you for the summer, make the most of the time by having a well-thought out program developed for training and educating the intern. Plan to give plenty of feedback and guidance so the intern gets the most out of the experience. Give the intern ownership of a project, making sure the project can be completed by the time the internship is over so the person can see the rewards of their labor.

Remember to make the summer intern experience is a win-win for both employer and intern. You never know if the inexperienced student you take on this summer could become a valued employee down the road.

Have you ever hired interns? Do you plan to this summer?

About the author

Nellie Akalp

Nellie Akalp is a passionate entrepreneur, small business advocate, and mother of four. She is the CEO of CorpNet.com, a trusted resource for Business Incorporation, LLC Filings, and Corporate Compliance Services in all 50 states. CorpNet also offers business dissolution services. Nellie and her team recently launched a partner program for accountants, bookkeepers, CPAs, and other professionals to help them streamline the business incorporation and compliance process for their clients. More info at: CorpNet.com/Partners.