If you need some extra help in your office but don’t have the budget—or enough work—to hire an employee, consider bringing in a part-time unpaid intern from a local college or high school.
Len McAdams, founder and president of McAdams Builders in Kirkland, Wash., posted an ad for non-salaried internship on craigslist (www. craigslist.com) and received many responses from interested students. “We continued to receive applications 2 weeks after the ad ran, says the remodeler.
McAdams selected Dan, a student in his senior year at a local college. At McAdams Builders, Dan’s duties include keeping the company’s image current on various social media Web sites and scanning old files for permanent storage.
The arrangement is a symbiotic one. Dan is gaining experience in a business environment to enhance his resume. In return, “We have a high-energy person doing things we would otherwise not have time to do,” says McAdams. The company also benefits from Dan’s young insights and perspective—“which are, unfortunately, lacking in our aging staff,” says the remodeler.
McAdams points out that he is carefully following legal advice to make sure that Dan does not become an employee by accident. “A maximum of 12 weeks and 20 hours per week (Dan works far less) are a few of the criteria,” says the remodeler.
Before you bring in an intern, sit down with your staff and identify tasks you’d like the intern to do. Perhaps he or she could draft customer satisfaction surveys, help organize a home tour, put client files in order, send out invoices, or possibly shadow some of your production personnel to help them with miscellaneous administrative tasks.
You may want to contact a nearby college or high school and talk to a guidance counselor or department head to see what kind of tasks would benefit and interest students seeking internships.
As McAdams did, be sure to consult your lawyer about work hour limits and other federal and legal stipulations for unpaid internships.