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Ways to Acquire Interns on a Small Business’s Budget

Written by Angela Finding

As a small business owner, you might love the idea of hiring an intern—not only will you get to give back to your community, you’ll also get significant help for your organization and if things go well, a prospective new employee. In fact, about 35 percent of employers’ full-time, entry-level hires first began as interns.

However, the process of finding and hiring an intern can be expensive, so what strategies can you use to acquire interns on a small business’s budget?

Seek Free or Cheap Job Postings

When you start looking for interns, rely on free or inexpensive scouting methods. These are just a handful of potential options:

  • Job boards. Some job boards require small amounts to post individual jobs and internships, but many are completely free.
  • Internship boards and organizations. Similarly, some organizations have initiatives dedicated to matching your company with interns, including NOCHE in Northeast Ohio.
  • Craigslist. When used strategically, Craigslist is a fantastic free way to spread the word about your internship.
  • Networking. Don’t forget to rely on your professional network, including the use of your social media profiles, to attract new talent.
  • Career fairs. Consider attending a college career fair, where your top demographics will be searching for opportunities.
  • High school teachers and guidance counselors. High school students in a specific path of study can also be great candidates for internships and are often looking for hands-on-experience to bring their studies to life.
  • University career offices. If you play your cards right, you could get yourself featured in an email blast, or even obtain an email list of students interested in internships.

Offer Reduced Hours

Some universities mandate that internships last a specific number of hours over the course of a semester for the internship to count as college credit. Even so, these hours are usually reasonable. Beyond that, there are no requirements for minimum hours that your interns receive, so if you’re working with a budget, consider reducing the number of hours that your interns work.

Consider an Unpaid Intern

Generally, it’s better to pay an intern. Even though you’re training and educating them, they’re also benefitting your organization, and should be compensated fairly. That being said, as long as the internship is truly benefitting the intern and the intern isn’t displacing an employee, unpaid internships have been found to be legally sound. Consider this option if your budget is severely restricted.  Be sure to consult a legal professional if you have questions about the risks of an unpaid internship.

No matter what your budget or financial situation is, interns are an option for your business. Thinking ahead and choosing the right strategies will allow you to find the most cost-efficient method to do so—as long as you still have your intern’s best interests in mind.

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