5 Tips for Hiring Interns for Your Startup

How to find the best intern candidates for your new business

  • Interview Several Candidates
    This is perhaps the most important advice. Spend the time necessary to review the resumes and interview at least three candidates before you make a selection. Even if the first candidate you interview is a knockout, its important to interview everyone on your short list. This is good practice when hiring in general as you never know what the next candidate may bring. When you finally make your offer, include a 30-day trial period, at which point you can decide if the internship is working out or not. 

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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