Sense & Sensitivity

Employer Wants to Make Sure Interns Learn

DEAR HARRIETTE: I own a small business, and I have been fortunate to receive help from different universities whose students work for me for a few hours a week in exchange for school credit toward their degrees. The program is wonderful; I am appreciative because I’m still trying to get on my feet, and I’m not making much money.

For the New Year, I have been offered three different people who want to work with me. I think that’s too many people for me to manage. As nice as the offer is, I know that my responsibility is to teach each student, not just give them busywork. I feel bad, though. I know these young people selected me to work with. What can I do? -- Luxury of Riches, Norfolk, Virginia

DEAR LUXURY OF RICHES: You have to be practical. Internships work when both the supervisor and the intern have the time and focus to work together. Otherwise, you both are bound to be disappointed. With that in mind, evaluate which of the interns is best suited to work with you. Can you comfortably take two, or should you have only one? Sometimes having two people can be effective, as they can work together on projects. Select the best candidate(s), and let the other(s) know that you cannot welcome them to your business at this time. If you think the candidate(s) that you were unable to accept could be good at another time, be sure to say that.

Selecting an intern is just like hiring an employee. You need to pick carefully. Otherwise, it can be too taxing on you during the intern’s stay.

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