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Do interns require too much time?

Summer intern With the arrival of summer, many small businesses take on interns. They are cheap, sometimes even free, and they are eager beavers, willing to do the grunt work that you and others don't want to do.

But will they require too much of your time?

Interns often have little or no work history. They need lots of hand holding and sometimes, they even seem to lack the common sense as to what's appropriate to wear to work or say at work. I have spent lots of time working with interns at The Miami Herald in one of our bureaus. They do require a lot of guidance and patience. I asked my editor Terence Shepherd for his thoughts. "They do require more guidance and that's to be expected. I think the pluses are greater than the minuses. They often do the work that veterans can't or won't do and they are more malleable. They can give the editor a different perspective, helping them reminds us how a story comes together from Point A to Point B."

"An owners who's busy running a company might find he or she also needs to become a boss/parent/teacher to an intern," says an article by Associate Press writer Joyce Rosenberg. "It can be time consuming but also rewarding."

Rosenberg points out: "Interns are supposed to be having a learning experience, not giving a company another warm body. They may need more supervision than an owner expects."

The flip side is that the time investment could pay off, if you end up hiring them eventually as full time staffers. You also have to be really careful if you have unpaid interns that they're not violating the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. (click here for the criteria)

Keep in mind, giving a student an internship has a huge impact.  The National Association for Colleges and Employers(NACE) report, found new graudates who had internships last year fared far better in the job market than those who did not.  The survey found 23 percent of those with internships who graduated in 2009 had a job lined up by April. For those who didn't, only 14 percent landed jobs by that time.

What has your experience been with summer interns? Did the person require more time and energy than you expected? Was it worth it?



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