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Summer is a great time for a lot of things: fly fishing, family camping trips, barbeques with neighbors and making s’mores. It’s also a great time to start an internship program for your small business. Such programs are not just for large corporations in far-off cities or government offices. Small businesses can also offer valuable experiences to students or adults looking to make a career change.

Internships are not only beneficial to interns. Small businesses can reap many benefits from a well-managed intern program. Giving interested young folks the ability to gain hands-on experiences in a business is a rewarding situation for everyone involved. Some internships have changed lives. Most of the small business owners I meet are passionate about the field they work in, and that passion could make them excited to teach the next generation of workers. Internships also give small businesses a chance to scope out potential full-time employees. Anyone who works with recruiting or hiring new employees knows how hard it can be to find talent, and this is especially so when it comes to small businesses that may not have the resources larger companies have to recruit. Internships can make that process easier by making more potential employees familiar with the company and its office culture. As a bonus, an intern who is hired as a full-time employee will already be trained for the positon. 

Businesses can also see a rise in productivity because an intern adds another set of hands that can handle projects that would otherwise be handled by full-time employees. However, it’s important that you give them a chance to handle more than menial tasks. Interns can provide fresh, different perspectives to a small business. They are also valuable when it comes to tackling the latest industry trends. College students learn about trends through their coursework, and interns may share academic knowledge that can be useful in running your business. You may hear about new ideas that you can further research.

An internship program can also be advantageous to your community. Your business would be providing an opportunity for students to learn outside of the classroom, which can create an important relationship between your business and the schools in your area. An intern may also be more inclined and encouraged to stay in the community rather than moving away after graduation. This could help your community retain important talent. More and more, businesses are placing an importance on previous work experience, and an internship program often qualifies toward this. An intern can apply what they learned at your business in their next job, which is especially helpful if he or she decides to stay within your community.

Starting an internship program can seem daunting, but as long as the program follows the Department of Labor’s criteria, setting up an internship program does not have to be a mountain of a project. The Department of Labor website is a great resource for information on establishing a program, including pay requirements. If your business is in a position to offer paid internships, it may lead to a larger pool of applicants and can improve the overall quality of the internship experience.

Providing an internship program is a good way to expand your small business and support your community. Consider putting internships on the list of summer activities that your small business looks forward to as the weather gets warmer.