Summer is a bit more than a week away and college students are out of school. What does that mean to your business? It could mean the answer to your short-term labor woes, because plenty of students are eager to land summer internships.

Is hiring summer interns right for you? Not if you think interns are a source of free labor that you can use to fetch coffee, make copies and pick up your dry cleaning. Unpaid internships are illegal in many states, and even in states where they are allowed, you must meet a six-factor test (check out the Department of Labor’s website for details).

internshipPaid or unpaid, internships must provide some type of job training and education to the intern, which means you need to commit to offering the intern meaningful work, guiding them and supervising them. If you can do that, an internship can be a great solution for your business.

Want to get started? Act now. Contact nearby colleges and universities to find out the requirements for their internship programs. If you’re open to a virtual internship, you can post openings on job sites such as

Whether your internship is virtual or in-office, be prepared to provide lots of supervision. Make sure interns clearly understand their duties, deadlines and roles.  Keep in mind some interns may have never been in the work force before, so you may need to set expectations for basic standards such as arriving on time, dressing professionally and use of social media. Provide constant feedback and regular communication so the interns always know how they’re doing.

Wise use of an internship program can not only solve your short-term hiring needs, but also create lasting relationships with talented students who may want to work for your business full-time when they graduate. Now, that’s a win-win situation.