How to Work with Local Colleges to Find the Right Student Intern for Your Business

September 19, 2023

Written by Marte Kitson, Internship Program Director, at the University of Minnesota Duluth Labovitz School of Business and Economics

So, you think you want to hire an intern. How do you find one? What kind of work is suitable for an intern? Should you pay an intern? Below is a practical, how-to guide for determining if an intern is a good fit for your business and how to find one.

Determine how you want to spend your time

Interns bring new skills, enthusiasm, and energy to your business. They also need mentoring, guidance, and someone on staff who possesses the technical skills necessary to support them when they face work challenges. It takes time to onboard, train, and support an intern, but this kind of mentorship is rewarding.

Think about projects, timing and duration

There are several things to consider when getting ready to hire an intern. The best internships are often project-based (rather than task oriented) and have a beginning, middle, and end that fit neatly into a timeframe that coincides with a semester (fall, spring or summer). Interns can also help with tasks, but a majority of their work should allow them to apply what they have learned in class.

Internships with these parameters allow the student to pursue academic credit if desired. Students who pursue academic credit need to work a minimum number of hours, based on the number of credits they are attempting to earn. The common number of hours is 200. That works out to be between 13-14 hours/per week for 15 weeks, which is the length of a semester.

Decide how much you can afford to pay an intern

Interns bring skills to the workplace, and they should be compensated accordingly. Last year,  191 (88%) of credit-based business internships in the University of Minnesota Duluth Labovitz School of Business and Economics (LSBE) were paid. To be competitive in Duluth and the surrounding area, an hourly wage between $16.00 and $25.00 is recommended.

Write a position description

Just like an employee, students want to know what they are signing up for. Creating a position description serves as an initial guiding document for you and your future hire. Some common sections of a position description include: Job title, location, number of hours per week, hourly rate, start and end date, job summary, bulleted list of duties, requirements, hiring manager contact information, and a section about the company.

Advertise your position on Handshake

Once you’ve written your position description, it’s time to advertise it. The most effective way to reach the University of Minnesota students and alumni with information about open positions is through Handshake, the free-to-companies job, internship, volunteer, and events database. If your company does not already have an account, create a user account on Handshake and build a company profile. Once Handshake verifies your information, your account is approved and you can post your openings, search for candidates, and more!

After your company is approved in Handshake and you have a position description, you can also contact the LSBE Internship Program Director if you are looking for a business student. With sixteen major areas of study, it is likely that just the right business student is waiting for you!

Now is the time to think about Spring and Summer interns

Some companies recruit interns and make offers months before the position will open. This proactive approach eases the minds of both the employer and the future intern. If you just got through the busy summer season and realized having a marketing intern or an accounting intern in the spring or summer would be helpful for your business, now is the time to think about interns.

About the Author

Marte Kitson is the Internship Program Director at the University of Minnesota Duluth Labovitz School of Business and Economics. She helps companies identify internship and early career opportunities within their business and ensures that students are prepared to offer skilled contributions to the workforce. Marte also enjoys most outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, canoeing, and biking. She can be reached at or 218-726-6118.

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