It’s that time of year again. College and university students are heading into the final stretch of their academic year and many are looking for a summer opportunity that will develop their skills and give them work experience in their field.
Why Hire An Intern?
Internships can be a great way for students to get ‘real world’ experience in their fields and make networking connections. Furthermore, internships are now required for the completion of many academic programs.
For employers, taking on an intern can be a rewarding undertaking. It’s an opportunity to get new perspectives and fresh ideas, extra help with a specific project or even find your next great hire.
Fresh from the educational environment, interns are generally on top of the latest trends of thought and technology. Their outsider perspective can help you discover new, practical and efficient ways of approaching your operations. Furthermore, they can be a great way for you to assign a little extra help to an ongoing project, or benefit from an area of expertise that your business does not yet have.
Whatever your reason for hiring an intern, there are some things you need to know to ensure that your internship program is successful and in line with Ontario employment law.
Interns Are Not Free Labour
Having an extra brain or set of hands to support your team for free sounds enticing, but remember, interns are not replacements for paid employees. Indeed, there are only six circumstances under which you do not have to pay an intern.
First and foremost, interns are with you to learn. They’re not there to save you a buck or lighten your workload. These are certainly perks that an intern may contribute, but they are not the intern’s reasons for applying to your business. Interns are not employees. Adjust your expectations of them accordingly.
Interns Aren’t Experts
Remember, the main point of an internship from an intern’s perspective is to gain practical work experience. Employers should expect and accept that interns are going to be new to a whole lot of things. So don’t be dismayed if they’re not familiar with the finer points of Dropbox and SharePoint from the get-go. They’ll figure it out, especially if you help.
Interns Need Mentorship
Many students seek internships as part of their educational program or as a chance to apply their knowledge in a ‘real world’ setting. Accordingly, they’re looking for mentorship.
Interns require more hands-on direction and supervision than regular employees. If you know that you will be too busy to give your intern reasonable hands-on training, or unavailable to regularly check in, offer constructive feedback and answer questions, then an intern might not be a good fit for you.
Mutually Beneficial Internships Take Planning
Before you decide to hire an intern, it is important that you have clear and concrete goals for this temporary work arrangement. What project(s) will you have your work on and how will they align with the intern’s skills and learning goals? What skills will the intern have developed from working with you and what sort of mentorship will they receive?
Finding adequate and meaningful work for interns is a challenge many employers face. Because the work relationship is of a fixed term, employers are sometimes reluctant to invest the training and responsibility necessary for their interns to take on projects beyond the tasks they are directly assigned.
In order to keep your intern busy, you should consider creating a detailed workplan. It is reasonable to expect that your intern will be at least somewhat self-directed, but they will need a decent amount of information up front in order for them to productively fill their time. ‘Busy work’ is of little benefit to anyone. It’s frustrating for employers to have to constantly come up with little tasks, and disappointing to interns who hoped to get meaningful work experiences.
Legal Obligations to Interns
As an employer, it is essential that you be informed of your legal obligations to your interns. You should be familiar with the laws governing internships in order to ensure your program and policies are fair and lawful.
An experienced employment lawyer at KCY at LAW can advise you of these legal obligations and can help you craft policies and procedures that will make your internship program successful and beneficial to all parties. To book your consultation, call 905-639-0999 or contact us online today!