*This blog is written by Caitlin Beck and originally appeared on the Indiana INTERNnet blog

So you’re wondering if you should hire an intern. It can lead to a mutually beneficial relationship and a great experience! But instead of jumping right in, take time to really contemplate if hiring an intern is the right course of action.

What Does an Internship Entail?

Before you get started, you need to clear any assumptions or misconceptions you have about interns. It might seem like an attractive idea, but an intern’s purpose isn’t to be your personal coffee delivery service, run your errands or be a cheap/free substitute for a full-time employee.

If you’re assigning interns tasks that are on the same responsibility level as a full-time employee, they’re probably going to feel overwhelmed or exploited. There’s also nothing wrong with assigning somewhat menial tasks, but if their entire experience is filing and making copies, you’re missing the point! Internships exist to offer students or young professionals an example of what your organization is like and to gain experience in their desired field that they can’t get in a classroom. Try to keep all the different elements of the internship balanced.

It might not sound as appealing, but having an intern could give you more work – not less. If you’re considering hiring one, he or she will need a supervisor to evaluate work, assign tasks and give general guidance. Do you have a dedicated staff member who’s comfortable with an increase in workload? Additionally, you need to set a plan for what the intern’s work will look like. How will your organization evaluate the intern’s performance?

What Do They (and You) Have to Offer?

When deciding whether to hire an intern, think in terms of a relationship dynamic. What will your intern bring to the table? An intern could bring a new perspective and innovative ideas to your organization. You could even potentially gain a new employee in the long run if your intern excels in their role, thus reducing turnover and increasing dedication to your organization. After all, if an intern accepts a job offer after completing an internship, it indicates that he or she has positive feelings about working for your organization. Interns that have a great experience are also more likely to mention it to their peers, benefiting your reputation and leading to better candidates.

Conversely, think about what your organization has to offer, particularly if you’re planning on a low rate of compensation or not paying the intern at all. They’re going to wonder what the internship does for them. Come up with some goals for what you would like the intern to accomplish by the end of their experience. Do these goals provide experience they can genuinely use in their future career?

The decision to hire an intern is a tough one. But it is incredibly rewarding for both parties. An intern might mean taking on a bit more work, but it could lead to fresh ideas and a new, passionate advocate for your organization. If you’re willing to put in the effort, an intern will too.

The Resource to Walk You Through Everything

Indiana INTERNnet’s employer guide is a great resource for helping you decide if you should hire an intern. It also has all the information you need to get started, including developing your program, managing your intern, HR practices, and evaluating the internship both during and after. Indiana INTERNnet is your one stop shop for everything intern related!