As a small business owner, your daily life is typically packed full of duties. If you’re a company with less than a handful of employees, your day-to-day can quickly turn from products with your clients to talking numbers with your accountant. That’s why every available pair of hands on deck counts. If you’re a company with more than a handful of employees, it’s still not a piece of cake. Communication becomes even more important when people are spread out and project work becomes all the more common. That’s why we have summer interns.
The talented individuals that may have just come out of school or are currently finishing a degree, can bring relief to a small business owner. One less thing to worry about, means more attention on everything else. Throw in the fresh perspective, and you could have yourself a very creative and capable worker.
That being said, we’re in a pandemic. For some of us, that means hunkering down, lowering cost, and waiting out the storm. For others it means finding a way to still operate under a totally different set of rules. Let’s not forget that many of us like myself are cooped up in our houses trying to figure out what’s happening to our business and what we can do to improve the outlook.
So that begs the question, why would anyone want to hire a summer intern right now?
1. If the world stops turning, it doesn’t mean you have to.
Business owners who have temporarily closed their business can still be working to help improve their circumstances. If you’re anything like me, you probably like your work too - so why not keep at it with the peripherals of your business while your core business is paused?
The pandemic can be a good time to reflect and brainstorm on the next steps for your business.
What happens when we open back up?
Is there a way we can implement a new revenue stream during the lockdown?
What does it mean for my customers 1 year from now
It is important to avoid getting overwhelmed by these questions, but it’s also important to keep them top of mind and summer interns can offer a great deal of creativity to the answers we’re all looking for. If you’re a business that caters to the youth, what better brainstorming partner could you have than a young worker in your exact demographic?
Summer interns can typically be thought of as a hassle to train because they do not understand your business yet. However, that can sometimes be a great tool for finding ways to improve your business. Pay attention to the questions they ask. If they’re asking it, there’s a good chance others in the same demographic would ask those questions too.
Giving a summer intern a project of finding, preparing and presenting a new revenue stream for your company during COVID can not only be a great exercise for them to learn real-world skills, but it can also be invaluable to your business. Be attentive to not shoot down ideas too early, let them present it, let them test it if they can and if at the end of the day there isn’t any evidence that it could work, ask them to move on to the next idea.
Business owners whose company has paused operations have some time on their hands to figure out next steps, so what better time to brainstorm the next level of your business with the help of a creative, and curious summer intern.
2. You might find it useful to have another pair of hands on deck
Business owners who continue to operate their business may have more use for a summer intern now than they would have otherwise. If you expect to have more working hours that you’re capable of servicing during the summer, a summer intern will typically help out a great deal.
The initial hesitation may be to ignore it due to assuming it may take more time to train them then its worth. Perhaps you may think it would be impossible to train a summer intern to work remotely. Personally, I would ask you to reconsider those hesitations.
Training an intern takes as much time as you need it to. Many years ago, when I was a summer intern, I went through internships where the training program took half the summer and others where the training was ongoing without a set schedule. You can bet that as an intern I certainly preferred the latter. I was being trained on what I needed to know, when I needed to know it, and that made all the difference.
If you think that training might take too much time, consider shortening the training to just the immediate essentials and leave the rest of the training for when it becomes relevant to the intern. This will not only reduce the time and effort it takes to get an intern up to speed, but it will also focus them on what matters when it matters.
3. Lastly, the government wants you to and they’re offering you assistance to do it
The economy has stopped functioning as a normal ecosystem of businesses and consumers and the often overlooked demographic of summer interns is taking a big hit. Students that relied on their summer income to pay for tuition and rent are now having to rethink their plans.
Thankfully business owners and soon-to-be interns alike, the Government has stepped in and put in place several funding programs designed to lower the capital it takes to hire a summer intern.
You’ll still have to train them, but the funding for hiring a summer intern is taken care of by new funding programs in place.
Funding Programs for Summer Interns:
Canada Summer Jobs Program
As part of the Government’s initiatives to minimize the negative impact of COVID and protect its citizens from economic disaster, the Canada Summer Jobs program has temporary changes that give employers more room to breathe when hiring a summer intern. The temporary changes include a 100% wage subsidy for funded employers.
The big catch here is that you have to have applied to this program prior to February 28, 2020 to be eligible for the 100% wage subsidy.
Read more about it here.
Student Work Placement Program
The second potential funding route available to employers is the Student Work Placement program which allows employers to apply for wage subsidies to help them hire post-secondary students across Canada.
This program allows employers to earn up to $5,000 for every student they hire and up to $7,000 for every student they hire that is in their first year or is from an under-represented group.
This one does not have the same catch as the Canada Summer Jobs program - you are still able to apply.
Read more about it here.
Having a summer intern onboard can still be a great thing for your business. Fresh minds come up with the most creative ideas and having creative ideas right now is an absolute must for any business looking to survive and punch through the crisis we’re all going through.
The Government has offered help to those who had already committed to a summer intern, and there are programs available for those who are thinking about doing it soon.
For interns themselves, they will be able to retain the salary they had planned for and will be more protected from the financial crisis for the time being. This is an opportunity for the employer to gain value from another set of hands on deck, and for the intern this is an incredible opportunity to learn about the realities of working through an economic downturn. If there has ever been a time to teach young professionals about the challenges of the real world, it is now.