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What sort of thought and planning do you put into your company’s internship program?

As students are off celebrating spring break, companies are working to line up summer interns. That means it’s time to discuss the whole intern process.

On Tuesday at, Jim Giuliano, reviewed the Department of Labor’s six ironclad rules for companies that take on interns. His post is a good reminder, but it’s brief, and I suspect it’s lacking in some key details, so I would like to follow up with a recommendation that employers take the time to investigate these rules and any others that may apply.

While it’s vital to ensure you’re following all laws and regulations, it’s also important to pay attention to best practices for hiring and handling interns. As a former intern who has worked with interns and heard plenty of tales — both good and bad — I know that “intern” has a wide range of meanings. While some companies do a great job of managing their interns — giving them meaningful work, teaching them valuable lessons and giving them a good experience — other organizations fail in a variety of ways.  These include leaving them bored, overworking them and treating them as copy-machine operators.

If doing the right thing isn’t enough motivation to treat your interns well, try thinking about the fact that these young workers will walk away from their experience with an impression of your company. It will be one they are likely to share, not only with their friends, but also with the world via a variety of social-media outlets. The question then becomes, do you want your company being discussed as “a great place to work” or a “a miserable pit of soul-crushing despair.”

What sort of thought and planning do you put into your company’s internship program?

Image credit, RealDealPhoto via iStock