Hiring Summer Interns? Here are the 4 Types of Tools Your HR Department Needs to Use

As graduation season comes to a close and people start to plan for their summer vacation, a new season arrives in the workplace: intern season

Many of us experienced one (if not more) summer internships during our college years, and some may even credit those times for paving the way for their future careers.

But, then again, many of us may look back at those internships with horror and dread. Unfortunately, the Hollywood stereotype of the mistreatment of interns is often the case. Since interns are often times unpaid and unexperienced, they are often left to do the least desirable jobs with little thanks. Countless latte runs, seemingly pointless tasks, and organizing lots of files and paperwork is never really that valuable, and it doesn’t help interns prepare much for the “real world” either. While these terrible experiences may make for funny stories at a party later in life, there is probably little that can be gleaned from a terrible internship.

You want your business to grow and succeed – so, it should be a top goal to ensure that the people within your company are growing and succeeding, too. Just because your summer interns will probably never become permanent members of your team doesn’t mean that they should be treated with any less respect or care than your full-time employees.

Summer interns are a terrible gift to waste, so you should be doing all that you can to make sure that both parties are truly benefitting from the experience.

Small businesses have a big opportunity when it comes to interns. By developing and working with interns, you can foster growth in an inexperienced individual who could one day become a major player for your company

Of course, the HR department plays a critical role in not only finding summer interns, but also ensuring that they are gaining valuable skills from their experiences. The best way to help make everything go smoothly is to incorporate the right tools to keep track of the important details and find the best summer interns to join the team.

If your business is gearing up for the upcoming internship season, you may want to consider implementing these tools to help your HR team make your program even more of a success.

1️⃣ A Quick and Easy Payment System

If your interns are lucky enough to get compensated for their work, your HR team will need to pay close attention to their hours and keep track of important payroll information. Even if your internship is technically “unpaid”, you may still need to reimburse interns for things like driving their car to grab those lattes.

Getting your interns set up on payroll can be a time-consuming task, especially if they are missing forms like their bank account numbers for direct deposit – or have no clue how to fill out a W4. If things are miscalculated, it can be extra frustrating to reprint checks or adjust during the next pay period to even things out.

One way to avoid this hassle altogether is by using an automated tool to issue paychecks without having to go through the pain of adding them into the payroll system if they are only with the company for a short period of time.

Fortunately, there are plenty of tools out there that offer a free online paystub generator – which are quite helpful here so that HR teams can keep track of all payments and issue out checks quickly. You can even add in deductions and keep a record of your intern’s income information so they have it on hand when tax season comes around.

Generally, interns are paid hourly, so their checks are going to vary week-to-week. Make sure that they have easy access to their employee timesheets to record their clock-in and clock-out hours, as well as any breaks or overtime hours. Using a digital timesheet system is going to be the easiest route, especially if interns need to request time off.

timesheets reports Reporting / Run quick & easy reports to see timesheet approval statuses & overtime hours cakehr
Reporting / Run quick & easy reports with CakeHR to see timesheet approval statuses & overtime hours

If your HR team is already using a specific payroll system, it is important that they understand how to classify interns in order to compensate them correctly. Note that these policies may change from state-to-state, so be sure that your HR and accounting teams do their research to make sure that everything is done correctly.

Depending on the set-up of your payroll structure and internship program, you may even want to qualify interns as independent contractors, which will require a 1099 form instead of the standard W4.

2️⃣ A Smart Hiring Program

Although interns are quite unlikely to turn into full-time employees over a summer, it is important that your HR team thinks of them as additions to the team and takes the hiring process seriously.

Remember, internships are designed to benefit both businesses and intern candidates: companies get some temporary help during busy summer months while students or recent graduates gain experience that will help them in the future. So, when it comes to recruiting these interns, your HR team should be just as careful and considerate as they are when looking to hire employees.

First of all, your HR team should be strategic about its sourcing strategies. Most businesses will set up a table at university career fairs, post it on online job boards, or put up fliers at the local hangouts for college students to advertise internship programs. While these strategies are all well and good, your HR team should explore other tactics to attract a wide range of intern candidates.

One of the best resources for finding new young talent is, of course, social media. Millennials and Gen Z’ers have basically grown up with these platforms, so they are very comfortable with using them to find jobs and internship opportunities.

In fact, 73% of Millennials found their last job position through a social media post.

73% of millennials found their last position through a social media site

And don’t think that you are by any means limited to LinkedIn and Facebook for promoting job opportunities. Instagram and Snapchat are showing great promise for recruiters – as these platforms are more popular among younger age groups that would be looking for internships. This also opens up the doors for some creative tactics.

For example, McDonald’s launched a recruiting strategy in Australia that invited applicants to use a specific geo-filter on Snapchat to record a short intro video as an initial application. GrubHub used a similar approach by leveraging their brand’s Snapchat to promote their hunt for a social media intern. They asked candidates to share examples of their creative Snapchat skills.

Now, once you’ve attracted a group of applicants, the next step is to narrow down the group to the most qualified ones. Since your intern candidates may not have impressive resumes due to their lack of previous experience, you are going to have to learn about their skill levels and personality during the interviewing process.

This is where you need to learn about (and use) strategic tactics to help you wisely  assess your candidates and get to know what their strengths and weaknesses are. A data-driven candidate assessment tool will be quite helpful in this situation because it puts all interns on an equal playing field. Moreover, it helps your HR team better understand them before making a final decision.

Criteria offers some great pre-employment tests that are designed by psychologists to truly assess an intern’s aptitude, personality, and overall skillset.

Although your interns may only be joining for a few months, it is still important that you understand where they excel and where they need further guidance.

This can also help you to create a more strategic internship program that focuses on skill development, so your interns can have a more beneficial experience.

3️⃣ Systems for Connection and Support

Although your HR department may not be directly in charge of telling your interns what projects to work on or what to do on a day-to-day basis, they are responsible for onboarding them and providing assistance when needed.

Typically, the first few days of any job are going to be a little bit rough. It takes time to learn the lay of the land, recognize people’s names and faces, and understand how to use various software programs and tools to get the job done. For unexperienced interns, it can be extremely overwhelming to navigate through those first few days or weeks until they get their footing.

HR leaders should do their best to help with the onboarding situation by providing interns with the tools they need to get connected and receive support when needed. CakeHR’s organizational chart is a great starting point to help interns understand each team member’s role in the company, as well as the rank of command for specific projects.

Even simple platforms like Slack or Skype for instant messaging can be extremely helpful because it allows interns to quickly connect to the people they need.

Slack is a super popular one amongst most companies these days.

It makes it easier to find people within your organization and offers additional features like file sharing and various groups to join.

HR teams should also do their best to help new interns thrive by incorporating tools to keep them on-track. Project management tools like Hive are great for boosting productivity and keeping both teams and individuals organized.

Tasks can be individually assigned, which can be super helpful for internship projects. Files and documents can also be easily shared, edited, and submitted so that no projects are accidently deleted or lost in a long email chain. This tool also offers integrations to numerous other commonly used programs –  including Slack and Microsoft Outlook.

4️⃣ An Engaging Feedback Platform

Employee feedback is absolutely essential for improving your business and making it a more pleasant place to work. It is also a critical task that is often left to the HR department to handle by ways of one-on-one meetings or quarterly review reports.

When it comes to interns, most companies unfortunately wait until the very end of the program to request feedback – which means there is essentially no time left to make any positive changes.

Of course, it is still important after the summer is over to get the intern’s feedback regarding their experiences, things they liked, and what should be improved. But, it is far better to stay on top of these metrics during the program in order to adjust before it’s too late.

One of the main purposes of an internship is to help college students and recent graduates learn more about the career they are perusing and gain some basic experience to help them land a full-time position.

Therefore, it is incredibly important that you are doing all that you can to help your interns develop their skills and learn new things through your program. You will want to use a system to track productivity and skill development levels – while also gathering feedback to gain a 360-degree view of their experience.

CakeHR’s performance software is designed to make sure that you are getting the most out of your talent, including your summer interns. There are numerous features that can be used to track an intern’s progress and productivity while simultaneously gathering honest feedback to make sure that they are having a positive experience.

Other leaders in the organization can also use this platform to rate their intern’s progress and provide instant feedback when they’ve completed a project – or deserve recognition for a job well done.


Summer interns should not leave your company with a bad taste in their mouths.

Be sure that your HR team takes the time to plan things out ahead of time to ensure that both your company and your interns get the most out of the experience.

These types of digital tools can really make a difference by keeping everyone more organized and connected, which is incredibly important for true development.

A digital-first approach can help from the very beginning by connecting your business to more interns and assessing their strengths and weaknesses with data-backed insights. From there, various programs should be incorporated to help these interns stay connected and on-task, as well as allow them to easily reach out for help when they need it.

Finally, be sure that you are using a smart system to listen to honest feedback while tracking important metrics like productivity and skill development. The goal is to find ways to make your summer internship program even better.

Manish Dudharejia is the President and Founder of E2M Solutions Inc, a San Diego Based Digital Agency that specializes in Website Design & Development and eCommerce SEO. With over 10 years of experience in the Technology and Digital Marketing industry, Manish is passionate about helping online businesses to take their branding to the next level.

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HR management software app system CakeHR human resources
HR management software app system CakeHR human resources

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