A young female intern pictured in a modern office is smiling and talking on the phone to a client.
If you have a great intern, Moira Vetter, owner of the Modo Modo Agency, recommends extending their internship or offering them a part-time position. — Getty Images/sturti

If you could create your own fantasy board of directors, who would be on it? CO— connects you with thought leaders from across the business spectrum and asks them to help solve your biggest business challenges. In this edition, we ask an expert about how to create and maintain an internship program at your business.

In this edition of "Ask the Board," we're pleased to feature Moira Vetter, owner of the Modo Modo Agency, a creative and strategic business-to-business marketing agency in Atlanta. Moira shares her tips on how entrepreneurs and small business owners can launch and maintain a strong internship program.

People often think that only large organizations with a lot of infrastructure can have an internship program. That's not the case at all. These tips can help you develop a successful one as a startup or small business.

Turn to local high schools and colleges

The college (or high school) just up the street has your best prospect pool. The reality is that getting from class to a job as an intern can be a struggle. That's why you should find a school that is conveniently close and let the placement coordinators do the work of matching you with the right talent.

Have your intern run their internship

Most interns have advisers who provide an internship checklist or program description. Our first intern brought that paperwork to us, developed the program, and took ownership of managing the process. Giving people ownership is a great taste of the small business experience.

In a small business, interns are much closer to the action. Let interns see you sweat. Bring them to important meetings.

Moira Vetter, owner of the Modo Modo Agency

Get up close and personal

In a small business, interns are much closer to the action. Let interns see you sweat. Bring them to important meetings. The more they see the true heart of an operation — what's working and what’s not working — the faster they will develop as a resource and as a professional.

Think long term

Internships don't have to end after a few months. Just because you set an end date for the internship doesn't mean you have to stick with it. If you have a great intern, see if they can extend their internship or become a part-time employee. If they aren't available until their next break, line them up now before another business signs them up.

Turn them into employees

Great interns make great employees — save yourself training and onboarding time. Don't underestimate the value of trusted interns already being in the inner circle. Several of our most enterprising interns (not surprisingly) became our best employees.

Keep in touch

Never burn a bridge, and always make time for people you've mentored and watched grow. Not only did we just hire last year's summer intern, but two of our former interns are currently our clients.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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