5 Tips for Hiring Interns for Your Startup

How to find the best intern candidates for your new business

Interns can be valuable resources for startups — especially bootstrapped businesses that need help but can’t afford to bring on full-time employees. However, having a successful internship experience requires preparation.

Here are five things every startup should consider before hiring an intern:

Continue reading Kwame’s tips on the next page

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  • WhyMeLord

    The U.S. DoL utilizes the below listed criteria, as created by the U.S.S.C.
    (Walling v. Portland Terminal Co. (1947) 330 U.S. 148), to determine whether
    a person is really an intern, or whether they are an employee who must be
    paid and treated according to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA):

    1.. The training is similar to that which would be given in a vocational
    school;
    2.. The training is for the benefit of the trainee;
    3.. The trainees do not displace regular employees, and work under close
    observation;
    4.. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage
    from the activities of the trainees and on occasion the employer?s
    operations may actually be impeded.

    Text
    http://www.twc.state.tx.us/news/efte/advanced_flsa_issues.html#interns_trainees

    Long story short interns are not a source of free/low pay labor so proceed
    carefully as the wage and hour folk have no sense of humor and often link
    the information to the IRS which includes an element of personal liability.

    Growth of Unpaid Internships May Be Illegal, Officials Say By STEVEN
    GREENHOUSE

    With job openings scarce for young people, the number of unpaid internships
    has climbed in recent years, leading federal and state regulators to worry
    that more employers are illegally using such internships for free labor.

    Convinced that many unpaid internships violate minimum wage laws, officials
    in Oregon, California and other states have begun investigations and fined
    employers. Last year, M. Patricia Smith, then New York’s labor commissioner,
    ordered investigations into several firms’ internships. Now, as the federal
    Labor Department’s top law enforcement official, she and the wage and hour
    division are stepping up enforcement nationwide.

    Many regulators say that violations are widespread, but that it is unusually
    hard to mount a major enforcement effort because interns are often afraid to
    file complaints. Many fear they will become known as troublemakers in their
    chosen field, endangering their chances with a potential future employer.
    The Labor Department says it is cracking down on firms that fail to pay
    interns properly and expanding efforts to educate companies, colleges and
    students on the law regarding internships.

    “If you’re a for-profit employer or you want to pursue an internship with a
    for-profit employer, there aren’t going to be many circumstances where you
    can have an internship and not be paid and still be in compliance with the
    law,” said Nancy J. Leppink, the acting director of the department’s wage
    and hour division.

    Ms. Leppink said many employers failed to pay even though their internships
    did not comply with the six federal legal criteria that must be satisfied
    for internships to be unpaid. Among those criteria are that the internship
    should be similar to the training given in a vocational school or academic
    institution, that the intern does not displace regular paid workers and that
    the employer “derives no immediate advantage” from the intern’s activities -
    in other words, it’s largely a benevolent contribution to the intern.

    No one keeps official count of how many paid and unpaid internships there
    are, but Lance Choy, director of the Career Development Center at Stanford
    University, sees definitive evidence that the number of unpaid internships
    is mushrooming – fueled by employers’ desire to hold down costs and
    students’ eagerness to gain experience for their résumés. Employers posted
    643 unpaid internships on Stanford’s job board this academic year, more than
    triple the 174 posted two years ago.

    In 2008, the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that 83
    percent of graduating students had held internships, up from 9 percent in
    1992. This means hundreds of thousands of students hold internships each
    year; some experts estimate that one-fourth to one-half are unpaid.

    In California, officials have issued guidance letters advising employers
    whether they are breaking the law, while Oregon regulators have unearthed
    numerous abuses.

    “We’ve had cases where unpaid interns really were displacing workers and
    where they weren’t being supervised in an educational capacity,” said Bob
    Estabrook, spokesman for Oregon’s labor department. His department recently
    handled complaints involving two individuals at a solar panel company who
    received $3,350 in back pay after claiming that they were wrongly treated as
    unpaid interns.

    Many students said they had held internships that involved noneducational
    menial work. To be sure, many internships involve some unskilled work, but
    when the jobs are mostly drudgery, regulators say, it is clearly illegal not
    to pay interns.

    One Ivy League student said she spent an unpaid three-month internship at a
    magazine packaging and shipping 20 or 40 apparel samples a day back to
    fashion houses that had provided them for photo shoots.

    At Little Airplane, a Manhattan children’s film company, an N.Y.U. student
    who hoped to work in animation during her unpaid internship said she was
    instead assigned to the facilities department and ordered to wipe the door
    handles each day to minimize the spread of swine flu.

    Tone Thyne, a senior producer at Little Airplane, said its internships were
    usually highly educational and often led to good jobs.

    Concerned about the effect on their future job prospects, some unpaid
    interns declined to give their names or to name their employers when they
    described their experiences in interviews.

    While many colleges are accepting more moderate- and low-income students to
    increase economic mobility, many students and administrators complain that
    the growth in unpaid internships undercuts that effort by favoring
    well-to-do and well-connected students, speeding their climb up the career
    ladder.

    Many less affluent students say they cannot afford to spend their summers at
    unpaid internships, and in any case, they often do not have an uncle or
    family golf buddy who can connect them to a prestigious internship.

    Brittany Berckes, an Amherst senior who interned at a cable news station
    that she declined to identify, said her parents were not delighted that she
    worked a summer unpaid.

    “Some of my friends can’t take these internships and spend a summer without
    making any money because they have to help pay for their own tuition or help
    their families with finances,” she said. “That makes them less competitive
    candidates for jobs after graduation.”

    Of course, many internships – paid or unpaid – serve as valuable
    steppingstones that help young people land future jobs. “Internships have
    become the gateway into the white-collar work force,” said Ross Perlin, a
    Stanford graduate and onetime unpaid intern who is writing a book on the
    subject. “Employers increasingly want experience for entry-level jobs, and
    many students see the only way to get that is through unpaid internships.”
    Trudy Steinfeld, director of N.Y.U.’s Office of Career Services, said she
    increasingly had to ride herd on employers to make sure their unpaid
    internships were educational. She recently confronted a midsize law firm
    that promised one student an educational $10-an-hour internship. The student
    complained that the firm was not paying him and was requiring him to make
    coffee and sweep out bathrooms.

    Ms. Steinfeld said some industries, most notably film, were known for unpaid
    internships, but she said other industries were embracing the practice,
    seeing its advantages.

    “A few famous banks have called and said, ‘We’d like to do this,’ ” Ms.
    Steinfeld said. “I said, ‘No way. You will not list on this campus.’ ” Dana
    John, an N.Y.U. senior, spent an unpaid summer at a company that books
    musical talent, spending much of her days photocopying, filing and
    responding to routine e-mail messages for her boss.

    “It would have been nice to be paid, but at this point, it’s so expected of
    me to do this for free,” she said. “If you want to be in the music industry
    that’s the way it works. If you want to get your foot in the door somehow,
    this is the easiest way to do it. You suck it up.”

    The rules for unpaid interns are less strict for non-profit groups like
    charities because people are allowed to do volunteer work for non-profits.
    California and some other states require that interns receive college credit
    as a condition of being unpaid. But federal regulators say that receiving
    college credit does not necessarily free companies from paying interns,
    especially when the internship involves little training and mainly benefits
    the employer.

    Many employers say the Labor Department’s six criteria need updating because
    they are based on a Supreme Court decision from 1947, when many
    apprenticeships were for blue-collar production work.

    Camille A. Olson, a lawyer based in Chicago who represents many employers,
    said: “One criterion that is hard to meet and needs updating is that the
    intern not perform any work to the immediate advantage of the employer. In
    my experience, many employers agreed to hire interns because there is very
    strong mutual advantage to both the worker and the employer. There should be
    a mutual benefit test.”

    Kathyrn Edwards, a researcher at the Economic Policy Institute and co-author
    of a new study on internships, told of a female intern who brought a sexual
    harassment complaint that was dismissed because the intern was not an
    employee.

    “A serious problem surrounding unpaid interns is they are often not
    considered employees and therefore are not protected by employment
    discrimination laws,” she said.

    To those who think this is a cool scam — do you really want to take a
    chance someone won’t drop a dime for the reward?

  • ms shoestring

    A confident, proactive and creative intern can be an asset to your start up. However, its essential to check if they possess the skills and talent that you require. shoestring-entrepreneurs.net