Ready to Work: Bringing Interns Into Your Glass Company

By Paul Bieber

In today’s work environment, you’d probably be glad to hire anyone. How about an intern? This is someone who is still in school or other training program and looking for a career. He or she knows roughly what type of work they’d like to do. Candidates who want to work with their hands, such as in construction or indoor/outdoor work, are your cup of tea.

Start the Process

Let’s say you hire an intern to work a certain number of hours per week—maybe 10 or 15—and at a fair wage, maybe 75% of what your current staff is making. You’re now providing an opportunity for someone considering a certain trade to learn about your company and how it treats employees. Also, interns can learn what the position would be like in a full-time capacity once they’ve finished their  school training.

I read a recent survey that said about 50% of interns hired in the spring joined the company on a full-time basis after finishing their training and education. Wouldn’t you like that hiring rate right now?

Don’t think you’re too small for an intern program. There are people in training schools who want to work for a family-sized company where they can grow quickly, just like there are others who want to work for a big business.

How do you get started? First, write out job descriptions for this position, as well as for the full-time position you’ll offer following a successful internship; plan this program to last about three months. List the pay rates of both jobs. Include your complete list of benefits, what’s covered, the cost to the regular employees and when the benefits would begin.

Send this to high schools, junior colleges, training schools and unemployment offices in your area. People will contact you if they’re interested. Write a good cover letter giving your website, and include brochures about your company and its history. Sell yourself as the business where placement officers want to send their upcoming graduates.

Job Details

How many interns would you like to hire? Usually double the number of regular job openings you want to fill. Have a clear training schedule written out. For example, the first week is for orientation, paperwork, and learning the basics of what you do. The second and third weeks focus on working around the shop. Make sure to stress safety above everything else; you may find that young workers generally think they are impervious to cuts and scrapes. In the following weeks they can go to a jobsite or the manufacturing station. Let them see you work in good and bad weather, and that rain doesn’t stop most work. If the jobs you need filled are in fabrication or manufacturing, stress that in the cover emails.

Explain clearly these interns are trying out for a regular job with your company and are willing to work for a limited amount of time, with a limited wage package; they generally don’t receive benefits. If you transition from an internship to a regular job, feel comfortable starting benefits from day one. This will help you hire the really great ones.

If you’re hiring for office positions, think customer service, financial work, or running a blue-print machine. For a complicated task, such as creating take-offs from a blueprint, an intern can learn from watching others.

You want to sell these potential full-time employees on joining your company. You’re paying three-quarters of a full salary to someone who is trying out to work for you. That certainly costs less than hiring a full-time person only to find at the end of 90 days they were not what you expected. In the long-run, interns cost less than just about any other type of professional hiring programs.

Paul Bieber has more than 40 years’ experience in the glass industry, with C.R. Laurence and as executive vice president of Floral Glass in New York. He is now the principal of Bieber Consulting Group LLC and can be reached at paulbaseball@msn.com. Read his blog on Tuesdays at http://usgpaul.usglassmag.com

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