It is not just corporate America that benefits from interns. It is often harder for small and medium businesses to find new talent because these companies do not have the recruiting staff to send out to college campuses or job fairs to recruit graduating students or other job seekers or the cache to attract up and comers. However, there is a low cost option. Companies can reduce their staffing costs by pursuing interns.

The number of companies that offer internships is significantly smaller than those that offer full-time positions. The same applies to the number of positions offered. I remember this very well from my days at Wharton. The investment banks offered one-fifth to one-seventh the number of internships as they offered full-time positions for the summer of 1997. It was a similar situation at consulting firms. So small and medium businesses that provided a great experience had a chance at attracting talent for summer internships that may not have seriously considered them for a full-time position. And once a company gets the intern in the door, the likelihood of him or her joining full-time upon graduation, assuming the offer is made, is highly probable.

You do not need to put a formal program in place to hire an intern or two. You just need to ensure that you clearly lay out the following: what you expect the inters(s) to accomplish during the time they are there, what their role and responsibilities are, who they report to, and who they should approach for assistance. (Sometimes who they work for differs from who provides assistance.) Discuss the above with the summer or part-time hires before they start or on their first day of work. Therefore, if their interests or objectives are distinctly different you may be able to modify their assignment somewhat to ensure a good overall experience.

As the small business owner or manager, you want to get great work out of the college interns now AND make a favorable impression. And most companies have a list of items that need to get done so any recommended modifications should be relatively painless. Of course, discussing the internship scope during the interview or as soon as an offer is made will allow you optimal time to adapt BEFORE you put everything into play.

Most internships are paid. Engineering interns make the most. But their wage expenses are still much lower than a full-time staff member in a similar position. And remember, you do not provide healthcare and other benefits to interns. (Typically, college interns are covered by their school's health insurance program or by their parents' insurance.) The best way to locate interns is to post the position at the applicable career placement centers at colleges and universities you would like to recruit from. Need help with finance or accounting tasks? Hire a finance intern from a local business program. Need help with construction sales? Hire an architect or engineer from a local architectural or civil or mechanical engineering program.

Author's Bio: 

Tiffany C. Wright is the author of the ebook, "Help! I Need Money for My Business Now!!" and the book "Solving the Capital Equation: Financing Solutions for Small Businesses". She is the president of Toca Family Business Services, an interim management firm ( As a former business advisor and consultant, she's helped companies obtain over $31 Million in financing. Tiffany hase an MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurial Management from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and her B.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering. View her blog at