We had the distinct pleasure of participating in a Business Consulting Case Competition at the University of Toronto Mississauga on the weekend where we observed some of the best and brightest. Most students were from U of T but there were students from other universities as well within southern Ontario. The students were given an Ivey case study and had to deliver a pitch on the business problem. The business problem was was whether that particular business should move into the Chinese market. The students only had 2 hours to read the case, research online and put together a professional presentation and be prepared to deliver it. Impressed does not begin to state what we thought in seeing how well the students performed under pressure.
Internships to Graduate
We had time in between providing coaching and judging to meet many of the students and talk with them about their plans when they graduate. Many have a year or two left in school and a lot of their programs require internships in businesses which are not paid positions. The students are left to find their own internships which is difficult of them knowing where to look. Many want internships with smaller businesses as they have heard they would have the ability to gain more “hands on” experience in several areas of the business, whereas large businesses usually have defined postings for interns. Though this is their desire, the students said they find many small businesses are not interested in hiring students, as they feel that students do not understand their business, and there is a cost. In many cases, the student cannot accept payment where the internship is required to graduate, so this is misunderstood by business owners in many cases.
Summer Internships for Experience
For students who are looking to gain experience while in school part-time or full-time in the summer in a business for pay, it is still worthwhile for small business owners to investigate hiring a student in their business. There are government programs in many of the provinces where if you employ people under 29, you could receive money for up to 50% of the salary you would pay them. There are programs at both a municipality and provincial level.
Misconception of Millennials by Business Owners
There is a misconception by many small business owners today that “young people” cannot really help them in their business. Though the students may not have “hands on” experience in a business, in many cases their education, has prepared them with the knowledge to provide value. This is especially true of many business majors where they have the knowledge of best practices in accounting, finance, economics, marketing, human resources, and operations, which could greatly benefit a small business owner.
The generation who are graduating from universities and colleges today are the same group who are having the toughest time finding jobs today behind those over fifty years old. This is why you see a lot of graduates starting their own businesses and why incubators are being started in the post-secondary schools today. Businesses all want to be able to hire the best employees. Unpaid interns’ marks are determined by their performance in your business, so there is even a greater incentive on their part to perform. Utilized correctly, if the intern is a fit for your business, you would have a good chance you will be able to hire someone that has previous training in your business that could hit the ground running.
If you are a small business owner that needs some temporary help in your business, consider hiring an intern or a student who is looking for experience for your business. I have worked in businesses who have hired summer interns and was amazed at the enthusiasm of the students along with the quality of the work. Even an unpaid Intern should be treated as you would any employee, so It is very important that before you hire any student, you have an understanding of the work you have and the background and education of the student. They are there to learn as well as contribute, so make sure that utilizing them in your business and is is a win/win and not be used to perform tasks you could hire someone with an 8th-grade education to perform. The idea is for both parties to benefit.
Interest in Hiring Interns
If you are interested in hiring an intern, unfortunately, we have not found many universities and colleges very helpful in helping the students or interested employers connect. One way to find interns would be to include a posting on your website or post the position on a free job board like Kijiji or Indeed. We are contacted from time to time by students usually business majors, looking for positions possibly in our client’s businesses. Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you are looking for an intern. If we are not aware of potential interns, we have some contacts in a few of the schools.
Again, if you are going to hire an intern, make sure that you have defined work that needs to be accomplished for your business for the length of the internship. An example: You might need help in developing processes in your business whether they be from an operational or a human resource perspective. A business student would be perfect to perform this type of work. Once you define the work and look at the skills required, the type and major of the student needed will become clear. Make sure you understand that they are the same as any new employee, they will need to have some level of training, supervision, and guidance.
RK Fischer & Associates