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How to Legally Hire and Manage an Intern

Are you ready to launch an internship program? Avoid these common intern hiring and management mistakes along the way,

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Other Common Mistakes to Avoid

There are a number of other mistakes which can get you in trouble. A few common examples include:

1. Using international students as interns without proper approval. International students are allowed to participate in internships, but there are a few additional hoops they need to jump through. Essentially, this amounts to receiving a letter from you, which they will use to obtain work permission from their college administration.
2. Failure to cover interns under worker’s compensation. As long as you’re not paying your interns, you’re not necessarily required to cover them under worker’s compensation. However, failure to cover them can expose you to more liability than it’s worth.
3. Non-adherence to Equal Opportunity Employment guidelines. Interns are not specifically covered under EOE. Still, you’re inviting a lawsuit if you give a college student a viable reason to believe they were discriminated against based on any protected status.
4. Accepting interns whose educational/career goals don’t line up with the training provided. If you have a student who is studying to be a social worker, you can’t add them to your engineering internship program just to receive a cost effective go-fer. If your program doesn’t further the intern’s goals, then it isn’t an internship and you must pay them minimum wage or higher.
5. Not treating the selection process similar to the hiring process. You want interns who will bring something of value to your business. The interns desire a training program which will help them advance their career and educational goals. If you don’t treat the selection and interview process as you would the normal hiring process for paid employees, neither of you are likely to get what you want.

An Internship Program that Creates Value

Technically, for your program to be considered an internship or training program, you can’t expect the interns to produce work of immediate value to you or your business. Still, truth be told, most companies who use interns do manage to get some productive work out of the interns.

The main issue here is that the interns need to receive something of value. In order to keep you out of hot water with the Department of Labor, your program needs to benefit the interns more than it does your company. That’s not to say that your company can’t benefit from the efforts of interns. It is to say that your internship program should be clearly designed and focused to create value for interns.

 

The best way to get started is to develop a simple and accountable internship program, keep the Fair Labor Standards Act in mind and avoid common intern hiring and management mistakes along the way.

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Photo Credit: Haute Design by Sara Klaussen

[frame_left src=”https://yfsmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Dominique.jpg”]Dominique Molina[/frame_left]

Dominique Molina is President of the American Institute of Certified Tax Coaches, an organization of tax professionals who are trained to help their clients rescue thousands of dollars in wasted tax. In addition to her blogging and speaking engagements, Dominique provides tax training and accounting marketing as a registered educator with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA).

 

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