How to hire an intern graphic
How to Hire an Intern

An intern is a trainee who signs on with an organisation to gain some work experience, or for a  course requirement and/or, to get a general feel of the industry they are interning in. Contrary to popular belief, interns can play an integral role in growing your company. When hiring an intern it is important to hire a person that you can learn from; a person that has the ability to execute tasks and contribute to the company. In this post you’ll find everything you need to know about hiring an intern.

  1. KNOW THE LAW

When hiring an intern many questions arise – what tasks should they do? Should they be paid? Are they entitled to any work benefits? Like in any case, it’s important to know the law. Thus, ensuring their rights are protected and their duties are clearly spelled out.

Section 2 of the Employment Act states that an employee is a person employed for wages or a salary and includes an apprentice and an indentured learner. An intern is therefore not an employee. However, there are guidelines set out by the government regarding the rights and duties of interns. These guidelines can be found in the Internship Policy.

Payment of interns for instance, is an issue that is constantly in question. It is important to distinguish between paid and unpaid interns and who exactly fall in these categories.

  1. CREATE AN INTERNSHIP PROGRAM

Before you hire interns for your company or organisation, you must first define the specific job and the skills your internship program will feature. Set up training courses so that the interns can have an opportunity to learn how to perform various tasks within the company and grow their skill sets.[1] Have the intern set out specific goals and learning objectives they hope to achieve through the internship as well. This will motivate them to take the program seriously and give them a sense of responsibility and accountability.

It’s also important to look at your organisations’ needs and determine what you hope to achieve with an internship program. This will ensure that the internship is an educational and rewarding experience for both the intern and the organisation.[2] Commonly, companies use these programs to recruit talented graduates as employees before they’re snatched up by the ‘talent-deficient’ market. This is as much an opportunity for your organisation, as it is for the student interns.

  1. LOOK FOR POTENTIAL

Potential is a hopeful word that looks to the future. It is the ability to transform. The term “Potential” is typically used to suggest that an individual has the qualities to effectively perform and continually contribute in broader or different roles in the organisation. When hiring interns, pay close attention to those who show great enthusiasm for their work, and have the drive and ability to improve.

When hiring interns, ensure you identify those with the highest potential and maximise on this.[3] Untapped potential in robust youthful interns is a resource you cannot afford to miss out on.

  1. SELECT A SUPERVISOR

Interns are in your office to learn and it is exceptionally beneficial and fulfilling to step into the role of a mentor. When selecting a supervisor, find someone who enjoys teaching and mentoring others and also understands the ins and outs of the organisation.

Supervisors are also important because they will help in orienting the interns and enable them to familiarise themselves with the company.[4]

A good supervisor is patient and can come up with quality work assignments for the interns. This supervision will further provide the company with information on the intern for future hiring.[5]

  1. REVIEW APPLICATIONS AND INTERVIEW

When looking to hire an intern make sure to carefully look over their application papers. Hire interns who are interested in your particular field. Related interest can often lead to higher performance levels. Interns who enjoy their duties tend to execute with greater enthusiasm. Passion yields positive results.[6]

Interviews are a great way to find out an intern’s passion and interest in your company and whether they are a good fit for your organisation.

Remember that the purpose of hiring interns is not to exploit them for cheap labour or, to shove them in a corner and give them pointless work to pass time. Internships are programs that are supposed to give students meaningful work experience and the opportunity to prepare for the job market. Interns provide you unprecedented, first hand access to the next generation of employees, they’re quite literally the future of your organisation. If you understand the role interns play in your brands sustainability, you must invest in them as a resource.


Mshimba Michelle


[1] https://www.internqueen.com/how-start-internship-program-your-company

[2] https://careers.usc.edu/employers/recruit-interns/learn-how-to-develop-an-effective-internship-program/

[3] https://talentguard.com/how-to-maximize-employee-potential/

[4] http://info.parkerdewey.com/supervising-interns

[5]http://www.ucdenver.edu/life/services/ExperientialLearning/foremployers/Pages/Steps.aspx

[6] https://mileiq.com/blog/hire-intern-small-business/

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