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Interns

Definition: A person, usually a student, participating in a program of temporary, supervised work in a particular field in order to gain practical experience Some colleges encourage students to work, for a small stipend or even for free, through internship programs. Student interns trade their time and talents for learning marketable job skills. Every year, colleges match millions of students with businesses of all sizes and types. Since they have an eye on future career prospects, students working as interns are usually highly motivated. Does your small business have anything to offer an intern? Actually, small companies offer ideal learning experiences for interns since they typically have a great variety of job tasks and offer a chance to work closely with senior employees.

Keep this in mind: In most cases, offering routine secretarial or "gofer" work won't get you an intern; colleges expect their interns to learn specialized professional skills. Hold up your end of the bargain by providing meaningful work. Can you delegate a direct-mail campaign? Have an intern help on photo shoots? Ask her to put together a client presentation? Get involved in a technology implementation?

Check with your local college or university to find out about their internship programs. Usually, the school will send you an application, asking you to describe the job's responsibilities and your needs in terms of major, skill level and other qualifications. Then the school will send you the resumes of students they think could work for you.

The best part of hiring interns? If you're lucky, you'll find a gem who'll stay with your company after the internship is over.