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A Win-Win Scenario




Small Business Create Big Opportunities By Utilizing Interns.

First Monday – February, 2007


If your company has a well-planned and executed internship program, it can reap significant benefits.

When Karen Rando was looking for marketing ideas for PawsenClaws & Co. – a custom teddy bear-making franchise store in DeLand – she knew where to turn. Rando contacted her friend Ann-Marie Cooper, program director of the School of Business Career Management at Stetson University. Cooper suggested hiring a Stetson marketing student, Masha Volkova, as an intern to help her implement grassroots marketing efforts.

It turned out to be an excellent – and economically feasible – decision.

“Masha came up with a customer birthday club and sparked the idea of giving out ‘bear bucks,’” says Rando. “She even created fliers for my business and helped drum up sales on campus.”

Like Rando, many small business owners are tapping into colleges and universities to find qualified interns. They know that students are eager for internships because the real-world experience they provide gives them credibility in job interviews.

College career services experts agree: If your company has a well-planned and executed internship program, it can reap significant benefits. They recommend following these tips when looking for interns:

Ø       Utilize Resources. Contact the career services department at your alma mater, as well as nearby colleges and universities. (See sidebar for contact information.) Many career services offices offer internship fairs where business owners can meet potential interns. Staff members will help you find good candidates in the right majors, and they can also help define the skill sets needed for the internship. Even high schools sometimes promote internships. For example, Crooms Academy of Information Technology in Sanford connects students with local businesses to design Web sites and help with IT support as part of class credit.

Ø       Have a Plan. Just as you wouldn’t hire an employee without a job description, the same should apply to an intern. Keith Lucier, director of information technology at Girard Environmental Services in Orlando, learned this the hard way.

“Have clear-cut objectives and a specific job description for potential interns,” recommends Lucier, who didn’t do this and created a difficult experience for both parties. “That way you establish expectations and know how to evaluate your intern’s work.”

Ø       Be Realistic. Realize that you’re hiring a college student who is eager to learn, gain experience and help your business … not a seasoned, savvy business consultant who will solve all your business dilemmas. “Think of an internship as a partnership in learning,” says Sheri Dressler, director of experiential learning at the University of Central Florida. “Recognize that you’re contributing to an education and that the internship will be for one semester.”

Ø       Think Long Term. Cooper suggests thinking of an internship as “an extended job interview” because it’s an efficient way to evaluate potential future full-time employees. According to the National Association of College and Employers, 53 percent of interns are offered fulltime positions at the companies with which they have interned.

Linda Costa, owner of Costa DeVault – a wordwise company in Winter Park, found a long-term employee in Kjerstin Dillon when she joined the firm as a public relations intern in 1993. “Kjerstin had just moved to the area, so she wanted to intern in order to gain practical experience. She was eager to learn and proved to be an excellent student and an outstanding employee,” remembers Costa. “We’re still friends, and even after starting a family she still does freelance work for our firm.”

Ø       Be Creative. You can even hire interns for big projects rather than for the entire semester. Barbara Frazier, from the internship and placement office at Valencia Community College, says that some businesses prefer to hire interns on a project basis. For example, a business may have a customer-appreciation event that needs planning support or a nonprofit may need help setting up a program to track fund-raising dollars.

Remember, internships are not just for big companies. Plus, many college students specifically want to work with small companies. Such was the case with current Dynetech employee and University of Central Florida marketing graduate Brandon Watson.

“Having an internship at a small company helped me see clearly what I wanted to do, and I value the experiences I gained,” says Watson. “Students have a lot to offer small companies, so I recommend they take advantage of the cheap labor and enthusiasm.”






University of Central Florida


Internship Fair:  February 2007


Ø        Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer:


Holland & Knight

Rollins College



Internship Fair:  March 2007


Ø        Jane Hames, owner of Embassy Consultants:



Seminole Community College



Ø        Woody Whitcomb, CFO of Value Financial Services:


The Boston Globe

Stetson University

386.822.7315 (arts and sciences major)

386.822.7383 (business school majors)


Internship Fair:  March 2007


Ø        Elizabeth Gianini, Chief of Staff, Orange County Mayor’s Office:


Florida Senate (for Richard Crotty)

Valencia Community College


Internship Fairs planned for 2007; call for details.


Ø        Laurence Pino, CEO/Founders of Dynetech Corp:


Johnson & Panico

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