I’m going out on a limb to estimate that 95% of the interns in the wedding industry are likely NOT interns. And chances are, if you have an intern, you are breaking labor law. I’m purposefully trying to FREAK YOU OUT because I don’t want you to get audited and fined. (We’re talking unpaid interns here.)
Are you awake? Go ahead, grab another cup of coffee.
Here’s the layman’s definition (my definition) of an intern…
An intern is a short-term educational opportunity to learn from a company. This opportunity is 100% educational in nature.
Did you get that? 100% educational. The internship needs to be actual training... on-going training… not “I teach you some things for an hour on your first day and then you are off to file papers, post blog posts, assemble wedding invites, run errands, make DIY projects, and tweet.”
NOPE. That ain’t gonna fly with the US Department of Labor.
When you have interns, you want to think of creating a classroom within your business.
Here is some info that explains the labor board criteria. (There are 6 criteria you have to have in place.)
Got it? OK… here’s the thing…
Around the ‘classroom’ structure, the intern can do “work” that augments a lesson… In other words, they can practice what you are teaching them.
So, if you are teaching them sales techniques, they could accompany you to a client meeting and/or conduct a sales meeting. If they are learning about marketing strategies using social media, they would be able to practice by doing some tweeting for you.
But- chances are they are not learning anything by filing papers.
The best way to protect yourself with an internship is to create a classroom structure where:
- YOU spend 1-2 hours teaching a new lesson
- INTERN spends 3-5 hours putting the lesson into practice (this is “on the job training”)
Here and here you’ll find a guideline for creating an internship program. An intern manual and/or training manual can be helpful in a) guiding you in training them and b) justifying your internship program if audited.
And – if you aren’t quite sure whether your team-members should be employees, contractors or interns, you’ll want to check out The People Plan.
Talk to me… please tell me you have some of these things in place. And, if not… how are you going to fix it?