The school year is in full swing and that means university interns are available to #StartupCincy companies. But before you start adding student interns to your team there are some things to keep in mind. Here are the things I always recommend our startups think through before onboarding interns.
Interns need to be doing more than just getting your coffee, so you need to know how they will contribute to real work. The more specific you are with your job duties, the more you’ll get out of an intern. You also need to be aware of how much time they can commit and be very clear on the hours you need them. Keep in mind school is their top priority!
Your goal is to provide a positive experience for your intern while, at the same time, accomplishing your work load. Keep in mind your intern can serve as a key recruiter for you moving forward – so it needs to be a positive experience!
Remember some of these interns are driving from far away (e.g. Oxford, OH). Some may want to come down one day a week to minimize gas and parking fees. Others may prefer to come in for small chunks at a time. I usually start with 6-10 hours/week and adjust as necessary depending on the workload.
In order to recruit the best talent, you need to make sure your job description is engaging. What are they going to do? What will they learn? Why your startup? Are than any other perks to working for you like a cool office, the ability to work from campus or the opportunity to rub elbows with startup founders? Make sure you show them how you are offering them a unique experience that will further their education and their career.
For more suggestions on how to make your internship more appealing to a college students see Cintrifuse member Chris Powell’s (BlackbookHR CEO) blog post How to Keep Interns Engaged.
As far as pay goes, I always recommend paid internships. If they are not paid, they are volunteers and you cannot dictate hours to volunteers. For paid interns, $10/hour is a good starting point. You can always sweeten the deal with a free t-shirt, lunch, coffee or #StartupCincy sticker.
You should also be aware of the difference between interns and co-ops. Some places use the terms interchangeably but in my experience, a co-op is when a student works full-time for your organization for the semester while interns are usually part-time. UC has a very strong co-op program and all our universities (UC, Miami, NKU and Xavier) offer fantastic interns.
We are very lucky to work closely with our four local universities. They all have strong career services offices that can provide a lot of assistance for mining talent. Other options include grant-funded interns, project assistance or internships that are required for graduation. If your startup is looking for interns or you’d like more information on how to engage with the University internship programs, feel free to reach out!
As Talent Resource Specialist, Christina works to connect candidates to Greater Cincinnati’s growing startup companies. She frequently attends #StartupCincy events, presents at universities and organized NewCo Cincinnati in 2015. Christina works with Cintrifuse members to coach them through the hiring process and provides potential leads for their job openings.