5 Ways to Get the Best from Your Intern



By Nicki Sanders, MSW


It is a mistake to consider an intern “free labor”. In fact, the Department of Labor has very clear guidelines that distinguish an unpaid intern from a paid employee.



According to The Department of Labor, the following 6 legal criteria must be applied when making a determination if an internship is required to be paid.
1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment.
2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern.
3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff.
4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded.
5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship.
6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.


Although an unpaid internship is primarily an educational exchange companies can still benefit. Here are 5 ways to get the best from your intern.


1. Set Clear Expectations
Having a defined job description and internship handbook completed before the intern’s first day can set the stage for success. The early days are also the best time to determine whether the intern’s academic goals and requirements match your company’s mission and vision.
2. Provide Proper Orientation and Training
Potentially more important than the day to day operations of your organization is an introduction and explanation of your company culture. You want to also be sure to explain how the intern will contribute to the team environment and also help the organization meet its goals.


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Nicki Sanders, The Packaged For Success Coach, is an experienced trainer, group facilitator, and program manager. She has packaged her Masters of Social Work degree and over 15 years of work experience into Packaged For Success, a training and professional development company. Packaged For Success provides career coaching to college students, entry-level job hunters, and experienced employees seeking a promotion. Packaged For Success also offers communication and productivity improvement training for employees and supervisors and provides consultation on building sustainable, impactful, socially responsible community programs.

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